It’s time for the annual blooming of our favorite epiphytic cacti, the night-blooming cereus, or, if you’re casting a spell, the Selenicereus grandiflorus.

The long, rope-licke cactus grows in trees and clings to rough, cracked bark, as it pokes its way skyward into the canopies from South America to Central Florida. They’re epiphytic, which means they derive moisture and nutrients from the air and the rain and they send down curtains of roots to sift all the goodies from the air like whale baleen.

What really makes them special though is their massive blooms that open only during the nighttime. The alien-like blooms can measure the size of a human head and will emit a cloying scent to attract nighttime pollinators like bats and moths and when the sun comes up in the morning, they wilt away like they were never there.

The timing of their blooming and the short-lived brilliance of their flowers makes the night-blooming cereus somewhat special to the real Cereus Nerds out there who make special pilgrimages to the trees across the City Beautiful to snap photos and admire their clusters.

The largest colony of blooms is without a doubt located at Weltin and Hardy on a massive tree that’ was recently gussied up by the new owners of the home located on the property. The owners, who we have yet to meet, just installed some spotlights to help with nighttime viewing and we think that was the classiest move of the year and they deserve an award for being amazing humans. At peak bloom the tree resembles a coral reef, completely covered in large white bursts of petals.

You can use the interactive map below to find some of the more famous locations in The City Beautiful. You can also follow the Night-blooming Cereus Facebook group HERE.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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