There are many different plant groups that share the common name ‘Moonflower’, but not all are the same.
Do you have a Moonflower at home? Although they may share some similarities in appearance, the chances are it is different to the one growing at here at the Garden.
Our Glasshouse Supervisor, Alex, explains:
‘It is likely that most people may have Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Queen of the Night). A common epiphytic cactus species in cultivation. This is not in the same genus as the Moonflower we have growing here, which is Selenicereus wittii.
Plant growers in a domestic setting will not have Selenicereus wittii, as this is extremely uncommon in cultivation and only ever likely to be found in Botanic Gardens or in the Amazon Rainforest.’
What's the difference between S. wittii and the common E. oxypetalum?
- Three to Four clones of this plant are recorded in Europe across the Botanic Garden network. It is extremely unlikely that it has been introduced into cultivation outside of this considering the inaccessible region it inhabits and the little detail recorded for it due to this.
- The main difference between S. wittii and E. oxypetalum is that the former could not be grown as a typical upright rooted plant – it only roots from the rear of the pads and must therefore be grown against a firm substrate such as a tree.
- From a taxonomic perspective, the long flower shoot of Epiphyllum is naked/not covered by scales, whereas the pericarpels (flower shoots) in Selenicereus have hairs or spines.
Below: Our rare Selenicereus wittii Moonflower.
Below: The more common Epiphyllum oxypetalum Moonflower.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum at home
We have loved receiving the images of your Epiphyllum oxypetalum blooms. Take a look at some of the stunning examples of home-grown Moonflowers sent to us by the public.
According to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), the species that we are growing can be found only in 13 botanic gardens globally. To put this in to perspective, this makes it even rarer in cultivation than the Titan arum (otherwise known as the Corpse Flower) which bloomed at Cambridge University Botanic Garden in 2017. Read more about this fantastic flowering here.
Thank you to everybody who has taken the time to send in pictures of their own Moonflowers.