09-19-2016 – Reflections
It has been 3 years to the day since my father died. I think of him often. There are so many things I would like to share with him. I’m thankful for everything that I learned from him. I try to remember all of the good that he did and the knowledge he passed on. Because of what he taught me I have a great respect for God, Family, Nature, Country, and the Military.
I still have some of the plants that he had cultivated. The Night Blooming Cereus plant that I have has grown from a small plant into a big plant and has bloomed many times. This year it has already bloomed 3 times and has 3 more brand new buds now. It seems to really like the hot temperatures of Florida and does well on the porch. The flower is so beautiful and fragrant. A lot of people ask about it so I did some research on it.
You can read all about the Night Blooming Cereus below:
Botanical name: Epiphyllum (flowers borne on leaf) Oxypetalum (acute petals) is a very interesting plant that blooms a beautiful white fragrant flower at night. It belongs to the Family Cactaceae. It is commonly known as Night blooming Cereus, Queen of the night, Lady of the night as its beautiful Lotus like flower blooms late at night. In India it is called as Brahma Kamal and is treated as a sacred plant.
Distribution: This plant flowers in the rainy season from June to mid October. It has diverse distribution and grows wild in tropical rain forests. Epiphyllums are indeed true cacti, but are more often labeled as "Epicacti" or "jungle cacti" to differentiate them from related desert flora.
Cultivation and propagation: It is propagated by rhizome, herbaceous stem and leaf cutting or layering. Prefers acidic soil and filtered sun light. It can also be grown indoor. To grow the plant, a Phyllocade is planted in the soil or is placed horizontally on the soil. The cut phylloclade can also be dipped in water. In about three weeks after roots have formed it can be planted in a pot containing soil.
Description: Stems are branched and erect, climbing or sprawling, profusely branched, primary stem cylindrical, 1-4 m long, flattened laterally. Secondary stems (which look like leaves) are flat, elliptical, acuminate, about 30 cm x 12 cm in size, with wavy and crenate margins. Flowers are produced from flattened portion having brownish receptacle 13 to 30 cm long. Flowers are 12-17 cm wide bearing green slightly angled short narrow about 10 mm long arching bracteoles, outer tepals linear, acute, 8–10 cm long reddish to amber; inner tepals oblanceolate to oblong, acuminate, to 8–10 cm long and 2,5 cm wide, whitish; stamens many (about 100) white, filament delicate slender and weak; style greenish white or white, 4 mm thick, as long as inner tepals, when flower bloms, later on become longer and comes out of tepals ends ends pale yellow or white multilobed stigma. Round pollen grains are with thick exine. Fruit is oblong, 12 x 8 cm, purplish red, angled. The flower is nocturnal with fragrance dispering in its surroundings. The principal odour component in the aroma is of benzyle salisylate.
Blooming of flower: Orchid cactus flower starts blooming after sunset from 7 pm onwards and takes about two hours to full bloom, about 8 inches in diameter and remains open through out night. It closes in the morning before sunrise drooping on long stalks. They have large pure white star-like flowers with lovely fragrance to help their pollinators locate the blossoms by moon or starlight.
Features of special interest: This flower, named after Brahma, the God of Creation (as per Hindu mythology), blooms only for one night in the entire year, somewhere between mid June and mid October. The blooming lasts only for a few hours. Brahmakamal is related with the story of how Brahma emerged from Vishnu’s naval in a lotus flower. It is also believed that it is a sacred flower and does not bloom in all homes. In the homes where it does bloom is considered lucky and is a sign or notation of prosperity. There are some interesting stories about the Brahmakamal. It is believed that it is the flower in which Hindu God Brahma resides and the place where it blooms will be the receiver of glad things. People who pray to God while the flower is blooming get their wishes fulfilled. There is a belief that the Brahmakamal should be gifted and should not be sold or bought from the market.
Medicinal uses: The phyllocaldes contain some active ingredients and show antibacterial activity. The stem is also used medicinally to cure dropsy and cardiac affections. Vietnamese people use petals of the faded blooms to make soups, which are supposed to have tonic and aphrodisiac medicinal properties.