Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cactus Break...

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Tonight, the huge Hylocereus undatus that has taken over the corner next to the fireplace in front of the glass door started to bloom.
It is an orchid cactus from Guatamala and will take over what ever space you allow it to, given the right light. The plant normally grows in the tree tops of a rain forest.
This particular plant reaches from floor to cieling, a mass of wild vining foliage.
The flowers are gigantic, these are almost 8 inches across and pure white.
One of the most interesting things about the evolution of this jungle plant is its night blooming habit. It blooms in the dark and each flower stays open for only one night.
The pollinators of these huge nocturnal blooms are bats.
This particular plant has a strange history. I used to frequent a Chinese carry out at Avenue B and East 6th Street in the East Village in New York City, years ago.
When the carry out first opened, the windows were filled with exotic plants and as time wore on, through neglect and bad light, they began to suffer and die.
One night, while waiting for a some Szechuan Chicken, I pinched a leaf from the plant.
I took it home and put it in a pot in the window. I lived on the top floor and had plenty of light. In a matter of 2 years, it was flourishing and it soon covered the cieling of the small room it was in. One night, I realized the plant had a number of huge flower buds and woke up later smelling a strange fragrance.
I looked up the plant in a cactus book and realized what I had.
When I moved to France, I took a leaf in my luggage. It's 9 years later and the plant flowers regularly every year and I have started many plants to give to unsuspecting friends over the years.
I had to take this picture, to do it, I had to go outside and shoot through the doors.
I had to do it now, because tomorrow they will be gone.


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mikeb302000 said...

Beautiful post. I love that cactus and its history.

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