Last night we went to “Bloom Night” at nearby Tohono Chul Park. This event is held every year to celebrate the once-yearly, one-night-only bloom of the Night-blooming Cereus, an otherwise unprepossessing cactus.
I will have more posts about our adventures at Tohono Chul. According to the Curator of Plants, plants have a “chemical intelligence” that allows them to communicate with each other. There are several hundred cereus in the park, and they need to bloom in unison so they can be cross-fertilized by the sphinx moth, their only pollinator. Not all the cereus bloom on the same night, but most do; others will bloom, also in unison, on one or two more nights during the monsoon.
They start blooming at sunset and continue into the night. After an hour or so they emit a heavy, almost cloying scent. When it’s not blooming, the cereus looks like a weed:
Please check out the Tohono O’odham legend of the cereus, which the curator read to us. The very touching story, “The Legend of Old White-Haired Woman,” is about two-thirds down the page: http://www.tohonochulpark.org/Art/NBC.html