Monday, June 15, 2015

Sonoran Reina de la Noche (Consolation Prize No. 2)

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

If you saw last post, you know I’ve decided to spend my usual spring motorcycle play time in a voluntary musical incarceration*.  My consolation prize?  Bacon.

This weekend, the Sonoran Desert brought me a second consolation prize. I’ve lived in Tucson for enough years to lose count, and I’ve never witnessed “Bloom Night.”  I’ve simply always skipped town by the then**.

Peniocereus greggii, a type of night blooming cereus, looks like a dead scrappy twig for 364.5 days of the year***.  But after sundown, on one sole, mysterious, synchronous, meta-bloom**** noche, she is the Sonoran Queen of the Night.    Somehow, all the plants in the area know…. tonight’s the night!  Her goal? To be pollinated by the Hawk Moth. Oh, sweet signal-scent, filling the night!  Oh, secretive and wondrous desert!

No one knows how she knows… and I have no idea how the staff at Tohono Chul, keeper of the largest collection of these special cacti, knows when to declare Bloom Night. But they do, and send a silent call through the air*****, a bit like the flowers themselves, just a few hours before the first petals begin to open. Hundreds of people cancel their plans and flock to the gardens to witness the event. And, finally, I was one of them.

Because of the crowds, getting good photographs of the event is nearly as tricky as photographing sun beams in Antelope Canyon (oops, haven’t published that one yet!).  I did manage a few though, so you wouldn't be stuck scratching your head over the silly painting shown above.  Here's a slideshow of the real thing.  Enjoy!

*It seemed like a good idea at the time?
** Not a bad plan. It’s supposed to be 109F here all week.
***I recently learned that underneath those gangly awkward twigs, lies a large turnip type root. My first question, “Can you eat it?,” remains unanswered.
****My neighbor's phrase.
****Email. Get on their list.


Anonymous said...

Next time you are at my house remind me to show you our night blooming cereus. It is over by the manure pile. It didn't bloom this year but it did bloom last year and was so beautiful.

Maureen Kirk-Detbernern

Eating On Two Wheels said...

I will! Thanks!