Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Queen Of The Night

Queen of the night, the size of my outstretched hand, is ethereally beautiful.


Queen of The Night, Nightblooming Cereus, tan hua (Chinese), 9 O'Clock Flower (Sabah/Malaysia) and many more names are awarded to this delicate and beautiful bloom. This cactus flower reminds me of my parents who stayed up to wait for the buds of the Selenicereus grandiflorus to catch their beauty at their fullest at 9 pm. When I checked on the buds of my pot of tan hua (given by my in-laws') at 9 pm last night, they were still not fully opened. It was 10 pm when they opened to their fullest and I realized that the delay was due to the one-hour backward adjustment when East Malaysia time was synchronized with West Malaysia's more than ten years ago. Do you also realize that 6:30 am in the morning these days (height of summer in the northern hemisphere; Sabah is slighlty above the Equator) is like 9 am in December, bright and already warm?

We were summoned to my in-laws' at 11 pm Saturday night to see the blooming of their tan hua (a name which when applied to a person means a someone who makes a big but brief impression). The flower's Chinese name is very descriptive of this flower because it rarely flowers and when it does, it is awesomely beautiful and scented but only lasts one night. The tan hua's ephemeral life evokes a kind of mysticism and romanticism. Each time I see a tan hua open, I am reminded of how brief life is, even when things are going perfectly well. It is a flower that epitomizes the briefness and bittersweetness of life.

MIL has about 10 pots of 40-year-old  tan hua. More correctly, they are descended from plants propagated over the years from the original plants. Last Friday, there were about 20 blooms and  the next night, about 27. That isn't the record because many years ago, we counted over 50 blooms in one night. I took dozens of photos of the beautiful flowers but in the end, only those photos taken with the flash turned out good. There's still so much to learn about photography, especially in low light.

I think the tan hua is related to the dragonfruit, another cactus. I remember my mom cooked a pork and tan hua soup once although she doesn't remember it now. I still remember how it tasted--pleasant and a little bit slimy on the stalks. I wonder if they are good stuffed with mozzarella and deep-fried, like zucchini flowers?



Precious Pea said...

So pretty! I only saw it once many many years ago in Melbourne but it was too cold to stay outside to watch the entire blooming process.

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Never saw this flower before, it look so awesome! Terri, could you suggest some hotels (good price and convenience to cari makan) in Shanghai for me as I going to SHA in mid Aug. Thanks in advance.

terri@adailyobsession said...

pp: hi, how are you?

these are very special flowers:)

sonia: i think my daughter is the best person to ask bc she's working there now! contact her at hongyi86@gmail.com:)

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

Terri, Thank you so much.

Food so delicious! said...

Oh!! I love this flower. I am trying to grow this from cuttings and so far, I can only see 1 shoot from one of the 3 cuttings. hahahaha.. I wonder when will I get to have so many flowers like yours.

I believe this is the same family with dragon fruit. In my friend's farm, I have seen the dragon fruit flower that is as big as a big soup bowl.... so Wow!!

Laura said...

I like this flower a lot! Thank you for sharing...it could be one of my next "experiment" with plants!!
I've got a little dragon fruit...but I think I should wait some more years before it will fruit! ..plants need patience!
Take care!

ELM said...

You can get awesome pictures of the cereus flowers by back-lighting the blossom (a flashlight works well) and photograph without the flash. I have hundreds of pictures (literally) as every time mine blooms I have to stay up until 1am taking pictures. I can't get enough of it. Too bad you can't photograph the fragrance.

KLMystic said...

Had this plant in my condo but coz I shifted the plant didnt do well & died at my new place! I call this plant the midnite plant coz it blooms close to midnite at my home! It'squite beautiful in full bloom!

Anonymous said...

I have 4 beautiful, healthy Queen of the Night plants. Recently, we had a horrendous storm with hail (south Florida) and it seriously damaged the leaves on all the plants. They are pitted and broken but, so far, still alive.
Since I have never encountered anything like this, I am looking for some advice as to what to do.
Do I just leave it alone...do I cut off all of the damaged leaves...just not sure.
Can anyone out there help???
Thank you.

eddyengmsia said...


I had this large petal Queen of the Night for more than 30 years and after moving house in Petaling Jaya,it died.I still have the small petal flower that blooms between 11:30pm to 12pm.The large petal one will bloom around 9pm in Petaling Jaya.

Since this large petal flower had died I have been looking for a replacement but fail to find it anywhere in PJ or from any nursery.Terri are you from Sabah or west Malaysia? If its possible can you send me 3 to 4 matured leaves of around 8 to 10 inches long by post or courier to me in PJ.I will pay the postage bill before you send.I had looked for 5 years now for a replacement for the large petal white flower.I had also seen a pink large petal flower more the 30 years ago in PJ but failed to get a leave from the owner.

I will be most happy to get a respond from you Terri.
Bye. You will be able to see some of my garden plants planted and grafted by me in my facebook account under the name of Eddy Eng Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Barbie Chiu said...

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