Thousands of people around the world watched as a unique selenicereus flower bloomed in the Cambridge University Botanical Garden, blooming for just one night.
The staff of the botanical garden says that the cactus, whose homeland is thousands of kilometers away, bloomed in Britain for the first time.
Selenicereus wittii, “moon cactus” or “queen of the night”, as it is also called, is a rare unusual cactus with elongated flat stems that surround the trees.
The flower with characteristic sharp white petals resembling a crown, usually blooms at night, emitting a strong nauseating aroma, and blooms for only 12 hours. After that, its smell becomes bitter and the flower withers.
The “Queen of the Night” flourished in England and was watched online by thousands of people around the world.
Cambridge University conservatory manager Alex Summers called it an incredible experience.
“I am very pleased to see this unusual flowering. This plant is extremely rare in our collection, and as far as I know,” Queen of the Night “bloomed for the first time in Britain,” Summers was quoted as saying by the Botanical Garden website.
The cactus bud began to swell in November, but bloomed only on Saturday, February 19. A special webcam was installed next to the plant, which recorded the condition of the bud during the last 11 days.
The greenhouse staff, who were near the cactus, were able to enjoy the unique aroma of the flower. However, it did not last long: at first, “Queen of the Night” smelled of notes of honeysuckle and gardenia, but in the morning the aroma changed dramatically, and began to smell like a public toilet.
Where did this cactus come from?
The genus Selenicereus grandiflorus belongs to the cactus family. This plant is common in the forests of South and Central America, it can be seen in the floodplains of the Amazon.
Cactus shoots are attached to the host plant, and its snow-white flowers usually bloom in the dark, thus enticing moths (“brazhniki”) for pollination.
Delicate flower petals, usually located at a height of more than three meters from the ground, reach 28 cm long and 15 cm wide.
After the flower has blossomed and been pollinated, it gradually dies, giving off a bitter odor.
“The cactus was attached to a water chestnut tree in our tropical garden,” Summers explains.
“At a height of almost four meters, you could easily lose it! – Summers continues. – The bud has only recently increased dramatically in size, and we realized that it is sure to bloom.”
The special page dedicated to the “Queen of the Night” was visited by more than 200,000 people, including residents of Australia, Finland and Thailand.
According to Alex Summers, the incredible interest in the flower was attracted by the fact that it is usually inaccessible to the human eye, because it hides in the depths of the dense jungles of the Amazon.
“People watched the process from start to finish,” says the expert. “We hope that now the cactus will bloom regularly for many years to come.”
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