Queen of the Night/Beauty Under the Moon

This has nothing to do with the Garden Tower, but related to gardening, and it brought back good memories of my father.    I went to Northern California two weeks ago to visit my cousin, and was gifted with a pot of Epiphyllum Oxypetalum (Queen of the Night/Beauty Under the Moon).  This is the description in Wikipedia:

Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Dutchman’s pipe or queen of the night) is a species of cactus and one of the most cultivated species in the genus. Though it is sometimes referred to as a nightblooming cereus, it is not closely related to any of the species in the tribe Cereeae, such as Selenicereus, that are more commonly known as nightblooming cereus. All Cereus bloom at night and are terrestrial plants; all Epiphyllum are epiphytic.


Oxypetalum (Lat.) = with acute petals, refers to the acute petals of this species.

The Chinese chengyu (four character idiom) 曇花一現 (tan hua yi xian) uses this flower (tan-hua; 曇花) to describe someone who has an impressive but very brief moment of glory, like a “flash in a pan”, since the flower can take a year to bloom and only blooms over a single night. Therefore someone described as “曇花一現” is generally understood to be a person who shows off or unexpectedly gains some achievement and is thought to be an exception or only lucky. The flower also has a rich history in Japan, where it is known as the 月下美人 (Gekka Bijin) or “Beauty under the Moon”.

Ahh, cactus, I live in the desert, just down my alley!  And this one does not have Prickly Pears!

Seriously though, among Chinese (if you have not figured out by now, I am of Chinese origin), this flower is very precious.  Suppose to bring good luck, and possesses great healing powers.  I remembered when I was a little girl, my Dad had a plant like that, and we had flower watching parties that lasted into midnight (that’s when the flower blooms).   My dad and his friends used to have a few drinks and waited all night for the flower to open up.  The bloom stayed open for only a few minutes, and then withered, and then the bloom is used to make a tea to drink.    Of course I was thrilled to get a wonderful gift like that!  Thank you, cousin Tuck and Elizabeth!  Here is a picture of the plant, and pictures of the flowers which my cousin took when their  Queen of the Night showed her presence.



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