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Moonflower set to flower for first time in UK at Cambridge University Botanic Garden





Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) is livestreaming the flowering of an Amazonian flowering cactus – which opens at sunset and is over by sunrise.

Update: Joy at flowering of Cambridge University Botanic Garden’s rare moonflower

The moonflower - Selenicereus wittii - is an unusual cactus which spirals around tree trunks with leaf-like, flattened stems or pads. Picture: Keith Heppell
The moonflower - Selenicereus wittii - is an unusual cactus which spirals around tree trunks with leaf-like, flattened stems or pads. Picture: Keith Heppell

The moonflower is a rare and unusual cactus. Alex Summers, CUBG glasshouse supervisor, told the Cambridge Independent that, as of Friday afternoon (February 12), the flowering wasn’t “far off”.

“Not today,” he said, “but it’s going to be I think in the next couple of days - which of those days, your guess is as good as mine. I’d probably say Sunday, at a push.”

Alex continued: “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.”

Alex Summers, glasshouse supervisor with the rare cactus. Picture: Keith Heppell
Alex Summers, glasshouse supervisor with the rare cactus. Picture: Keith Heppell

Alex and his assistant Barbara will be on nightwatch to make sure they don’t miss it and the team have set up a webcam in the hope they can livestream the flowering.

Updates can be found on Twitter @CUBotanicGarden and Facebook.

The moonflower at Cambridge University Botanic Garden
The moonflower at Cambridge University Botanic Garden

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