Queen of the Night: The Night Blooming Cereus

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Southern Arizona is one of the only locations in the U.S. of the rare night-blooming cereus. This desert flower only blooms for a short period of time which makes it a difficult occurrence to catch. The Ranch offers the perfect location to catch the blooming in action. Spend your afternoon horseback riding and then escape to hunt down the flower at night. Some of the shrubs are within walking distance of the cabins. This experience isn’t available just anywhere, and if you’re a “flower hobbyist” you’ll be ahead of the rest after experiencing the night-blooming cereus.

This cereus has a turnip-like root, u­­­sually weighting 5-15 pounds, which Native Americans used as a food source. The blooms are as big as a saucer and as deep as a chalice with stunning white petals that appear stark in the night. These flowers are exquisite and have a fragrance like no other. So why are they so hard to experience? Because they only last for one night!

Regardless of genus or species, night-blooming cereus flowers are often large and frequently fragrant. Most of the flowers open after nightfall, around 9 or 10 pm, and by the first ray of sunshine, most are in the process of wilting. The plants that bear such flowers can be tall, columnar, and sometimes extremely large, but more frequently are thin-stemmed climbers. While some night-blooming cereuses are grown indoors, most of these plants are too large or ungainly for this treatment. Night-blooming cereus will not begin to flower until it is around four or five years old. Plants usually begin with a few flowers and bloom more with age.

Plants that have been pollinated by moths while they are blooming will produce fruits, which are large enough for people to consume. These fruit have the advantage of lacking exterior spines, in contrast to the fruit of cacti, making them a tasty treat with a pleasant taste. Since the late 1990s, these fruits have been commercially grown and sold in locations like Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hawaii, but can be found growing naturally right here in our very own Tucson, Arizona.

When the blooming occurs you’ll understand why this lady flower is referred to as the “Queen of the Night.” These flowers are normally known to bloom in the months July-October, but recently we have spotted them blooming now. So make sure to call and book your stay at Tanque Verde Ranch to try and catch the blooming in action. Make sure you partake in one of our nature hikes and learn about all the flora and fauna found in our Sonoran oasis on your next visit. We also have a handful of activities to keep you busy when you aren’t hunting down the rarest shrubbery around. Spend your time by the pool, enjoying mouthwatering cuisine, or enjoying a sunny horseback ride. There are several packages to choose from during these months if you go to our website or call lodging: 866-413-3833 to find the perfect package for you.