Tuesday, October 7, 2014

For One Night, and One Night Only!

My friend Meldee with her spectacular Cereus bloom
Night-blooming Cereus is the common name for a large number of flowering ceroid cacti that bloom at night.  This is but one of the many kinds there are.

Getting ready to bloom!
That's right, friends, this is a CACTUS!  Surprise, surprise.

These are unique blooms, because the cactus produces blooms only once a year, and then, only for a single night.

According to Wikipedia, regardless of the genus or species of these various night-blooming cereus, the flowers are almost always white, or very pale shades of other colors.  They are often large blooms - as you can see in the photos!

They are also quite fragrant.  

Sorry we don't have smell-o-vision... yet.

Meldee says the plant originally belonged to her grandparents.  That's cool that they've been able to keep it alive.  I would have killed it by now, if it were mine.  I have no green thumb, unless of course you count the things that are are currently growing in the refrigerator...

Meldee and Don's carefully tended Cereus recently bloomed, and they were able to take photos of it.

Most of the flowers open after nightfall and by dawn are already in the process of wilting.  Meldee was able to keep them fresher longer by putting them in the refrigerator.

They are truly delicately beautiful, aren't they?  It's a shame they fade so quickly.

John Wesley wrote a poem to these flowers, as did American Poet Laureate, Robert Hayden, who wrote:
Lunar presence,
foredoomed, already dying,
it charged the room
with plangency*

It is lithe and sure, he continues, a dancing whisper to "celebrate the blossom" and the original miracle of life.

The next day they are gone
It reminds me of Psalm 103:
...as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.  For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.  As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children's children;  To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them, the LORD hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all.

Thanks, Meldee and Don, for sharing your beautiful photos of this rare and unusual plant!

*Plangency: from Plangent, meaning resounding loudly, especially with a plaintive sound, as a bell.  You can see the bell shape of the flower.  They make their presence known clearly, too, by their beautiful perfume.  Poet Hayden's use of this infrequently used word is both accurate and as beautiful as the flower.

1 comment:

Don said...

For clarification ---it was Meldee's grandparents' plant, not Don's. :0)