Blink and you will miss it! The incredibly rare Moonflower Cactus bloomed recently, but it lasted only one night and was gone by the time morning rolled around. The elusive and unusual plant shows off its majestic white flower at night only once a year and gives off a jasmine-like fragrance in its rainforest environment.
“It is very rare to have this plant in our collection and we believe this is the first time the Moonflower has bloomed in the UK,”
This one in particular was propagated from another in the German Botanical Garden of Bonn in 2015 and now grows around a water chestnut tree. It is an epiphyte, a type of plant that grows on another plant. Its native habitat is subject to flooding which is why it usually grows feet above the ground and drops its seeds into the water, which are then carried away and (hopefully) find a place to grow.
In November 2020, Summers saw a flower bud grow 3 meters above the ground. Since then, Summers and his colleagues have kept an eye on the bud, pending the divorce. In nature, these flowers usually bloom in May, but it is common for them to bloom in February when kept in a greenhouse. Summers thought it would finally bloom on February 9 and started a live stream for others to watch, but it didn’t happen until February 20. The plant started spreading its sepals at 3pm and by 5pm it was fully open, which you can see in this video:
Experts were there to take pictures and collect all kinds of data. However, they had to work quickly as 12 hours later (as expected) the flower faded, lost its sweet fragrance and started to smell more unpleasant.
“We are so excited that this rare cactus is now blooming – since I realized it was about to bloom we were all excited,” said Summers. “Everyone here in the Garden is fascinated and I feel so lucky to have come here to experience it.” It was an excellent opportunity for botanists to gain a better understanding of the plant, especially as pollination of it outside of captivity has never been observed.