Night pollinators

!!!!night-blooming-cereusThe night-blooming cereus (Hylocereus undatus) in our yard flowered last night and is pictured above this morning. This tropical plant is regarded as invasive in the Keys and south Florida. It blooms — at night — only once per year; Its vegetative growth is quite swift and will clamber up and over other plants.

When I was growing up in New Jersey, our neighbors had this plant growing in their greenhouse, and its annual flowering was a cause for much celebration and invitation to stay up late. So, I have a special fondness for this plant.

Plants that bloom at night tend to be white, since white stands out best at night, and likely are pollinated by bats or moths.  Bats tend to prefer white, green, or purple flowers with a strong, musty fragrant, ample pollen and abundant, somewhat hidden nectar. These flowers tend to be bowl-shaped and open only at night.

Moths tend to prefer dull red, pink, purple or white flowers with a strong, sweet scent and abundant deeply hidden nectar. Pollen often is limited. Their preferred flowers are regular or tubular without a lip.

Night-blooming cereus is pollinated bats and moths at night and sometimes by honey bees in daylight hours. Last year, it fruited in our yard.

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