Joy at flowering of Cambridge University Botanic Garden’s rare moonflower
Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) has announced that its moonflower - Selenicereus wittii - has flowered more than a week after it started livestreaming the event.
The unusual Amazonian flowering cactus - which opens at sunset and is over by sunrise - spirals around a tree trunk and has leaf-like, flattened stems or pads.
“Oh it’s been worth the wait, what a beauty!” announced CUBG on Twitter.
Oh it’s been worth the wait, what a beauty! pic.twitter.com/LcMyyFv8ri— Cam Botanic Garden (@CUBotanicGarden) February 20, 2021
At the time of writing, the cactus was still flowering and hadn't finished completely.
A spokesperson at the CUBG said: “We're delighted that it’s flowered - it’s taken us by surprise because we were expecting it to flower after sunset and it started flowering this afternoon.
“It looks absolutely magnificent, and we're so pleased that it's happening and that we can now have a good look at it and explore the flower.”
The spokesperson added that, at the time of writing, they were still waiting for “a few small bits still to open” - but noting: “As you can see on the live stream, most of the petals have all opened now, and it looks rather beautiful.”
The flowering has captured a lot of people's imaginations all over the world.
“It has,” agreed the spokesperson, “we’ve had over 100,000 visits on our website, over 100,000 people watching the live stream on YouTube.
“It’s been lovely - people have been so excited by it, and have actually enjoyed the wait, I think.
“It’s been quite fun - someone said it was more interesting than Bridgerton! But yes, people have been getting very involved.”
Professor Beverley Glover, director, CUBG, added: "We are so excited to be able to share this unique flower with so many people around the world. It's great to have so many people enthused by plants!"
Alex Summers, CUBG glasshouse supervisor, previously told the Cambridge Independent: “This is probably the only plant of this species, which is from the rainforests of the Amazon, in the UK, and it’s the first time that it’s ever flowered in the UK.
“It’s a very poorly-known species - they’re not particularly accessible forests out there in the Amazon, the ones it actually comes from - and the initial work was done on it in the late 80s, early 90s by a couple of German botanic gardens - Bonn, Berlin and Munich.
“We’re fortunate enough that we were kindly given a piece of the cactus by Bonn Botanic Gardens in 2015, and from that, that’s where we’ve grown the plant we currently have.”
It is hoped that the moonflower will flower at the CUBG once a year from now on.
Alex and his assistant Barbara have been on nightwatch to make sure they don’t miss it and the team at CUBG set up a webcam to livestream the flowering.