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Nightblooming Cereus

Peniocereus greggii

 
Photo by Michael Plagens

Photographed in the Gila Bend Mountains, Maricopa Co., Arizona on 17 Feb. 2008. This image is available at the Wikimedia Project.

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FLOWERS: Amazing, oversized white flowers with numerous petals open at night to be pollinated by bats. Basis for another popular name for this cactus: Queen of the Night.

SUCCULENT: A longitudinally ribbed, climbing cactus that usually snakes up through a shrub or small tree gaining support and also protection from herbivores and intense sunshine. The under story of a creosote bush is a common habitat and creosote wood and roots are among the hardest in nature thus protecting the stems and underground storage. The underground portion of this cactus exceeds the mass of the above ground portion.

ARMED. Short stiff spines at the areoles along the ribs. May be rubbed off by repeated abbrasions of the nurse shrub.

RANGE: Found along the southern tier of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and also eastward into the Chihuahuan Desert. Widespread in Sonora, Mexico. Normally grows in deep soils.

FRUIT: Large (75 cm long), bright red when ripe splitting open to reveal small black seeds. Dry single-seeded capsule encircled by winged bracts.

LEAVES: None.

Photo by NASA

This picture is also hosted at Wikimedia Commons where there are many more images of cacti.

Cactaceae -- Cactus Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009