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Belle de nuit (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Christophe Joulin
Belle de nuit (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Christophe Joulin

Queen of the night

Commonly known as the “Queen of the Night”, the Cereus oxypetalum is a species native to Central America which blooms from the evening until the following morning. This plant is protected by CITES.

Identity Card

Common name
Queen of the night, Dutchman’s pipe cactus
Binominal name
Epiphyllum oxypetalum (DC.) Haw.

Taxonomy

Kingdom
Plantae
Family
Cactaceae
Synonyms
Cereus oxypetalus DC.

Detailed Informations

Area of origin
Central & South America

Etymology

Epiphyllum, “on the leaves” in Greek, refers to the way the flowers seem to be borne by leaves (which are in fact modified flattened stems). Oxypetalum means “with pointed petals”.

Description and flowering period

This cactus is epiphytic, which is to say it grows on tree branches but is not a parasite to its host and does not harvest the tree’s sap. The plant is leafless: its photosynthetic function is assured by its green flattened stems which can reach 12cm in width and 30cm in length. Its fruits are red berries. Its flowers are white, funnel-shaped, sweetly scented and only open at night – hence its queen of the night nickname – Those characteristics are in fact designed to attract moths which are the plant’s pollinators.

Habitat

It requires partial shade, a well-drained potting mix, usually containing coarse sand and or pumice. The species is hardy to -7°C.

Notes

This species is protected under CITES: the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.

Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN

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