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“Queen of the Night”

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For 364 days of the year, the yard in front of the Botany building on Palm Avenue goes practically unnoticed. However, for one Friday evening in June, the building was the stage for a stunning presentation.

Selby Gardens’ Selenicereus, the “Queen of the Night” cactus, was set to bloom, and the public was invited to spend a few hours to watch the spiky and brilliantly white blossoms grow as the sun set.

The oak tree in the middle of the yard where the cactus exists was roped off and surrounded by tiki torches. Most of Palm Avenue was closed off and chairs were set up for guests with cameras to enjoy the spectacle. Almost like Christmas tree lights, bright and beautiful flowers popped up on nearly every branch.

As 11 PM approached, the spectators began to fade off into the evening and Palm Avenue was quiet once again.

About Selenicereus: is an epiphytic, lithophytic and terrestrial cactus genus found in Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America. The generic name is derived from Selene, the Greek moon goddess, and cereus, meaning “candle” in Latin, and its name reflects a single night a year in the plant’s life. On that night, as twilight moves to night, spectacular blossoms open up all along the length of the plant for a few brief hours. Then, as dawn creeps in on the horizon, the petals close up, the show ends, and maybe another year will pass before the next performance.
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