Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bloom Night 2012

Last night was our famous “Bloom Night,” the one night in the year when the Night-blooming cereus (Peniocereus greggii)  performs her magic and hundreds of flowers open all at once. It doesn’t start till after sunset, and the flowers blossom all night, to be pollinated by hawkmoths. They open at the same time because they cannot self-pollinate. Apparently they communicate with each other across the desert through some sort of chemical signaling.

At Tohono Chul Park, we have a big “block party” for the whole city on Bloom Night, and hundreds of visitors roam our luminaria-lit trails admiring and photographing the beautiful blossoms.

Last night I was stationed at the back end of our longest desert trail.

Pink sunset at Bloom Night 6-23-2012 7-56-46 PM 3616x2712

                                                           Sunset on the Desert View Trail

When I first got there, Emerald, one of the most spectacular and prolific plants, was just barely beginning to open its tight greenish buds:

Emerald buds 6-23-2012 7-10-18 PM 1902x2276Emerald, with ten green buds

Its companion plant, “Little Sister,” was already about halfway open, showing its lovely pink petals.

Little Sister 6-23-2012 7-09-59 PM 1484x1116

                                         Little Sister, about halfway open

As it got darker, night hawks and bats emerged, chasing insects. By the time it was fully dark, Emerald was more than half open. Emerald 6-23-2012 7-52-05 PM 2286x2465People lined up twenty and thirty deep for a chance to take its picture.


  1. What a splendid event. Something to look forward to every year, I suppose. But how do they know which night it will be and plan ahead for it?

  2. We plan ahead because we know it will happen, sometime between late May and late July. So everything is in place. Then there are a couple of very savvy guys--our botanist and our head groundskeeper--who know how to read the signs. I think it's like reading entrails, very esoteric. The groundskeeper was very happy that he called it right. And relieved, I daresay.

  3. Anonymous5:12 AM

    You will have to introduce me to Emerald and Little Sister. Glad the Queen had a good night. How was the attendance? Sue

  4. Love the photo of Little Sister. Gorgeous, she is!
    The sunset photo is really pretty too!

    1. Thanks! Even when it's hot, there is always beauty to spare at the Park.