For the first time in the United Kingdom, a rare Amazon cactus, the Selenicereus wittii, is about to bloom in the Cambridge University Botanical Garden (CUBG). The rather unconventional flowering experience of the awning cactus is currently streaming on a webcam, and when it blooms – as expected sometime this weekend – it will show a rare glimpse into the 12-hour blooming period, which usually begins at sunset and is followed by all sunrises.
“I am eager to see and share this very unusual flower. It is very rare to find this tree in our collection and we believe it is the first time that a moonflower has blossomed in the UK,” Alex Summer, Glasshouse Supervisor at CUBJ, said in a press release. The moonflower is native to the Amazon rainforest, where it is usually found wrapped around tree trunks. The current specimen acquired from the Botanical Gardens in Germany in 2015 and now kept in botanical gardens inside a glasshouse for proper condition.
CUBG’s Twitter canopy provides updates on the current progress of the cactus flower, which stands below: The current length of the tree is 19 centimeters (7.5 inches). They hope the tree will start to bloom once it reaches 20 centimeters (7.9 inches). Even for Valentine’s Day, it can be a special surprise, which is this weekend. After the cactus blooms, it will open a white flower that reaches about 27 centimeters (10.5 inches) in length, lasting only 12 hours. As it blooms in the sunset to attract two special pollinators during sunset, it emits a very sweet-smelling scent, attracting two species of hawkmoth with extremely long proboscis (tongue).
The cool thing is you can see this moment as it happened – this is probably if you are going around – probably between sunset and sunrise UK time (GMT / UTC) on Sunday, February 14. There are plenty of ways to check if the flowering process has started. “The team has created a webcam in the hope that they can live stream the flow of flowers to share with other enthusiasts,” CUBG said in its press release.
So, if you are annoyed by the lockdown (who he is), do not feel anything new in a few months and really want to see a rare moonflower bloom for just 12 hours. Tune in to the live stream below, and check out CUBG’s social channels for regular updates on when the blooms may begin so you can have popcorn ready, or shall we say wine?
If this is not enough to observe such a rare moment on earth, check out the first flower that bloomed in space here.