Night-blooming cereus

Last night I got home late and found a note from my mom stuck on the bathroom mirror that informed me there was a bud opening on the night-blooming cereus, and I should nip outside for a look before going to bed. Armed with a flashlight (a bike light, actually, it was what I had on hand) and my camera, I headed out for a peek. I took some photos – none of them are spectacular, but they will give you an idea.*

Here she is around 10:40pm, just beginning to open.

I say “she” because the night-blooming cereus is also known as the “princess” or “queen of the night”, and I like to think of this one as Scheherazade, bewitching as she was. I impulsively decided that I needed to see her fully open, since it’s a rare, rare event, and set the alarm for 2:30am to get up and go back outside for another look.

For some context I should say that Tuesday I went from home to work, straight to dinner with a friend, to a demanding dance class, to home for a quick shower, to the Imax to see Dark Knight, and thus was on the go from 7am to 1:30am. Then Wednesday I went from home to work, straight to a yoga class taught by a friend of mine who is working on certification, to samba rehearsal, to pizza/beer after with samba friends, and thus was on the go from 7am to 10:30pm. I was BEAT. I got home ready to get my 8 hours. She still seemed worth the sacrifice of  middle-of-the-night rising and missed sleep. And she did not disappoint.

Here she is from the front.

And the side.

The bloom also gives off an intoxicating smell, quite hard to describe.

This morning I checked on her before heading off to work, and she was all modestly furled up again. And that’s all there is, a few hours of glorious beauty.

*This is not to say that fancy people with time to plan and quality equipment can’t capture some amazing moments. Here are a couple of time-lapse videos that I found on YouTube. The first one starts blooming before dark, which is uncommon. The second one (14+ blooms at once!) blows my mind.

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