Last night, we kept our kiddos out late to do something a little nerdy. Well, cereusly nerdy. We drove around from 9-10pm, admiring the flowers of tree-climbing cacti that bloom for (usually) just one night per year.
We missed the window last Summer and joined the Night-blooming Cereus of Orlando Facebook Group to try and see them in person this time around. After last night, I don’t think we’ll miss this spectacle again.
The varieties that we were looking for were Selenicereus grandiflorus, commonly known as “Queen of the Night”; and Selenicereus pteranthus, “Princess of the Night”. For most of the year, these epiphytic cacti look like a mess of snake-like vines. Over time, they wrap around tree trunks and climb their way up into the canopies of Oak, Pine, Palm and other local trees, gathering all the moisture they need to survive from the air.
One of the Facebook Group members started a handy, crowd-sourced Google map of Night-blooming Cereus in Orlando. We used that map as a guide and visited one group of cacti at the Mead Gardens entrance and another that’s covering a large Rain Tree on the corner of Weltin St and Hardy Ave in Colonialtown North.
Both locations had hundreds of magnificent blooms last night, but also a lot of buds that will still blossom over the next few evenings. An expert at Mead Gardens said that the recent weather mix has confused the plants a bit this year, so if you want to see the spectacle, you still have another night or two.