Doug and I have been at Desert Rat Studio for 10 years. It started out as our home and has gradually become a home for different birds and small animals. I started making a running history of DRS 2 1/2 years ago on my web site http://desert-rat-studio.com/
This article Doug wrote.
Doug likes variety in his garden. We have multiples of some plants. The Queen of the night is definitely an example of a plant that he has planted in many, many places on our property. This article, he wrote a number of years ago. I think the Queen of the night deserves a page of its own.
My pet name for it is the Cinderella cactus. To see it in nature for the majority of the year is to not see it. Most would not see or observe the plant at all in it’s natural setting. If one takes the time to look up and read the description written by many botanists, it is described as looking like “a bunch of dead twigs”. My observations of it in it’s natural settings in the Sonoran desert is that it can be possibly be found most anywhere, not greatly abundant but can be found in the open by itself. This is not it’s preferred habitat because it is a rather frail plant subject to having its upper growth broken off by most anything passing by or putting pressure on its stems. Its stems are normally not thicker than a large finger of a human hand, often thinner. Quite often it becomes multi-branched. Branches varying from shades of green to gray in color. Its spines are not very obnoxious.
I most frequently see the better examples of this plant as an understory plant under or around a great variety of plants in the Sonoran desert: mesquite, crucifixion thorn, creosote, palo verde and ironwood. I have seen more under ironwood than any other though I am not able to determine why but speculate that the extensive canopy offered by ironwood is a favored habitat. Hard to spot in this environment most of the year as it blends in almost perfectly camouflaged admist the lower dead branches of canopy.
An exquisite flower in the desert, I find it’s blooming cycle to be very unpredictable. Growing it here, it’s first blooming has varied by as much as six weeks. Anytime from the last week of May to the first week of July. By some, it is referred to as one of a group called orchid cactus which include Peniocereus, Selenicereus, Hylocereus, and Epiphylum’s.
It’s fruit formed after blooming is edible and the tuber has been regarded as a food source by native peoples. Tubers as large as 150 pounds have been recorded though 10 to 20 pounds is regarded as a large one.
There are many places on the internet where one can read more about this plant, plug the name ” Peniocereus greggii” into search if you care to read more details about it.
Its reputation is that it blooms but one night a year which I have not found to be quite true. The first night of blooming is the best. The most blossoms are on the FIRST night , most of the time there will be a second, maybe a third night but each successive night will be of diminishing numbers of the previous night. Some years I have had a second entire blooming cycle several weeks later as occurred for me in 2009. In 2010 I had three blooming cycles.
But the first night of the first blooming cycle has always produced the greatest profusion of blossoms. These can exceed 3 inches in diameter of a very fragrant flower. It is a magnificent night blooming flower. It is a night I look forward to every year.
Blossom dates for the last three years here:
June 3rd and 4th, 2008
May 26th and 27th, 2009 with a few stragler blossoms on the 28th and 29th
Also on July 8th and 9th, 2009
June 20th and 21st 2010
2nd cycle – July 18th and 19th, 2010
3rd cycle – August 3rd and 4th, 2010
It has been quite a while since I posted anything here. Sorry, but I am back now and will try to post daily.
For the people who have signed up to be a subscriber or to add comments to the different posts – – – welcome!