Overheard in the locker room: “I’m afraid one of ’em will win”.
I wrote last year about my little Epiphyllum bearing delicious fruit, but as carefully as i watched it all summer, not a blossom appeared, and hope yielded to despair.
Shouldn’t have. At the beginning of October, i glanced at it and noticed a bud…and then a close examination revealed four more! So i hovered over them for three weeks, watching one drop off while the remaining four came to maturity. Here’s one nearly mature.
My anticipation grew as they fattened, but somehow i forgot to look at them in the early evening of October 18th. However, when i stepped onto my patio on the morning of the 19th, all four buds had opened. Here’s a couple.
And a closeup.
And after they’ve wilted in the early afternoon.
This event inspired me to attempt to determine the species. Fortunately, there are only 19 species in the genus, and i was able to find sufficient descriptive information and photographs to feel confident that the Epiphyllum that would perfume the whole house twenty years ago on Noe Street was Epiphyllum oxypetalum and that my current one is Epiphyllum anguliger.
Actually, some descriptions were quite detailed, as in this description of the E. anguliger flower.
Flowers 6–20 cm long, 6–7 cm wide, nocturnal, strongly sweet-scented *; pericarpel with podarium; receptacle 8–16 cm long, 4 mm thick, pale yellow, greenish or pinkish, bracteoles few, minute, linear and green, adpressed; outer tepals 10, linear to linear-lanceolate, acute, spreading or reflexed, 4–5 cm long, lemon yellow to brownish yellow; inner tepals lanceolate to ovate, acute or acuminate, white, sometimes toothed, as long as outer tepals; stamens in two rows, white, erect to subdeclinate, nearly as long as tepals; style longer than inner tepals, white; stigma lobes 8-11, linear.
Whew. Shoulda studied botany.
I think the flowers of all members of the genus open at night, but these are distinctive in that instead of wilting as dawn breaks, as is typical, they remain open until noon the next day.
Also, they are not nearly as fussy about pollination as most of their bretheren, some requiring specific species of insects and others needing pollen from a simultaneously blooming adjacent specimen. No, these are the whores of the genus and will apparently take pollination any way they can get it. After all, mine set fruit year before last as a house plant in my Noe Street flat. Consequently, i’m examining it daily now that it’s on my patio, and i’m thinking that i already see the formation of fruits.
Let’s pray for the harvest. In the process of getting the damn pic above, i managed to knock off one of the four possible fruits.
Thus, i cannot resist crowing over a success. For decades i’ve been making minor edits to Wikipedia entries as an anonymous contributor, and when i first discovered it, the entry for Epiphyllum anguliger had no information about the fruit other than a botanical description of its form and a note that it tasted somewhat like a gooseberry. So i got in there and added a description of the appearance of the interior and that it was delicious.
But then i realized that i had a photo of one of mine that i’d cut open last year, and after only a moderate amount of hacking and cursing managed to get myself fully registered as a certified Wikipedia editor, jump through all the wikihurdles, and stick my photo in. ta da. Check it out.