Watch livestream of rare moonflower cactus blooming at Cambridge University Botanic Garden
A rare moonflower cactus plant (Strophocactus wittii) is expected to bloom at Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden over the next few days - and a livestream has been set up to capture the moment.
The beautiful flower, which is growing in the Tropics House, usually opens at night and so the feed has been set up so that people can keep an eye on it.
The first time it flowered was in February 2021 – which was the first ever flowering of this plant in the UK. More than 500,000 people watched the occasion online.
Kathryn Bray, senior horticulturist at CUBG says: “We’re measuring the bud daily. It’s currently 18cm long. When this plant flowered in 2021, the bud was 26cm in length. Although this one is significantly smaller, we are anticipating flowering imminently as the bud is swelling and the pedicel (flower stalk) is beginning to lower, which is a sign it is getting ready to flower.
“We first noticed the buds developing about 4 months ago and are excited now to see it flower.
“We were delighted to see several buds forming over the last year, including one that caught us by surprise last weekend as it flowered when the bud was much shorter than expected.
“So we’re determined not to be caught out by this flower and to capture it on camera for everyone to enjoy.”
The blooming of the moonflower is rarely seen in cultivation, with only 16 known plants in botanic gardens worldwide, although it is not rare in the wild. It is know to give off a strong scent just before the flower opens.
Kathryn is keen to underline that this moonflower is not the same as others which readers may have at home and is rare outside its Amazon home.
Kathryn is also keen to point out that although the common name of this flower is the moonflower, it is not to be confused with other flowering cacti which hold the same common name.
“The name moonflower is given to a lot of cacti which people often have flowering at home,” she says.
“This does not mean though they are the same plant! Confusion like this is why we always use the Latin name for the plant, not the common name.
“This plant – Strophocactus wittii – is definitely very rare in the UK and in botanic gardens in general, outside its native habitat in the Amazon, so it’s important to always go by the Latin name.”