80808The common names of ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ and ‘queen of the night’ are not much less awkward the the Latin name of Epiphyllum oxypetalum, which might be why the Latin name is more common than the common names are. Some know it as ‘white ephiphyllum’ or even more simply as ‘white epi’. It is one of the more popular of the epiphyllums; and it is the most popular with white flowers.

The nocturnal flowers appeal to nocturnal pollinators. What we see simply as luminescent white is actually outfitted with exquisite patterns that are only visible to those who can see ultraviolet light, like nocturnal moths. Bats are as blind as . . . well, bats, but can follow the richly sweet fragrance if they choose to. Sunlight disables fragrance immediately, and causes flowers to close soon after.

In the wild, sprawling primary stems can cascade almost twenty feet. Of course, they are much shorter in home gardens. The more pendulous secondary stems that bloom get about a foot long, and perhaps three inches wide. Flowers bloom in summer, and can be half a foot wide and a foot long. Epiphyllums naturally hang from trees as epiphytes, so will do the same from hanging pots.

8 thoughts on “Epiphyllum oxypetalum

  1. I’ll be darned. This looks much like the flower that appeared on my Peruvianus monstrose, and its behavior’s much the same, too. I don’t usually link to my photos in another’s blog, but I thought you might like to see this little beauty. The buds were fabulous — long, and silky, and as gorgeous as the flower.

    I just learned about the UV patterns this week, over at Steve Schwartzman’s blog. Loving white flowers as I do, it just adds to their appeal that there’s an invisible world there beyond our seeing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It took me a minute to recognize that as a Cereus peruvianus montrose. They are sort of related, and probably use similar techniques for nocturnal blooming.


  2. It is nice to have flowers such as these to fill warm still evenings with wonderful fragrance and to provide some mystery with flowers unseen except by night. Plenty else for the daytime. So nice to learn all that. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! I almost missed the one in the picture because. Two had already bloomed and faded before I got the picture. My colleague in Southern California has some on his porch that are more prominent, and get notice more in the evenings than mine that are sort of out of the way.


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