Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Queen was there!

All photos by Bob Wenrick 6/23/12

This plant is called 'Emerald' for the color of the sepals

And this one is called 'Little Sister'
If you missed Bloom night at Tohono Chul Park on Saturday, you can still experience the sight of these beautiful flowers, if not their smell! Night-blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii) Thanks to Bob for these great photos.
Maribeth ran into Lee Mason at the park at 6.30am the next morning. The flowers were still open. The following is information from Lee about the Queen-of-the-Night: (via Heather Murphy and Fred Heath. Thanks to all for sharing!)
  • The plant with the most blooms, 'Emerald,' is at the back end of the field behind the children's area. Lee estimated her tuber at 10 pounds. He guessed that a tuber could grow to 20 pounds! He said that in his experience tracking queens, he hasn't noticed a set life span...long live the Queen!!! 
  • [At Tohono Chul,] they water when they see the beginning of a flower. They do this every 2 weeks, putting 5 gallons in the cage that is around each queen. On the 1st and 3rd waterings, he puts a tiny amount of Miracle Grow in the water. (The small end of the green spoon that comes in the box.) 
  • To recognize the beginnings of a bud, look for a tiny pinkish fuzz ball on the stem. New stems are tiny fuzz balls, too, but they are more grayish. 
  • There is usually a pause in the development of the flower when the queen 'decides' whether she will continue through fruiting or not. Sometimes, if several flowers have opened, she may decide that’s all she can do and not funnel energy to remaining buds. 
  • If the queen isn’t pollinated, she may grow more since she doesn’t have to direct so much energy into the fruit but can instead channel it into the plant. Ripe fruit is red and good to eat. 
  • Javelina and rabbits are the 2 main predators. They will just dig up or gnaw off the stem at the base. Pack rats will gnaw on the ends of stems, but they don’t kill the plant. A damaged plant may not bloom for several years as it regains its strength. 
  • Average age to bloom would be 5 – 6 years, however, Lee knows of 2 well cared for plants that were 17 and 21 years before they bloomed.

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