A pitahaya summer interlude

(Updated July 25, 2015)

It began with the waxing of the Full Buck Moon.*

DSC_0003 Pitahaya flower bud

It was almost like praying.

Our White-fleshed pitahaya, Hylocereus undatus, began to send a bud towards the heavens as it did last August under the Full Sturgeon Moon.*

DSC_0005 Pitahaya reaching into the heavens

DSC_0012 Plants' quest for fulfillment

It reached up in its quest for fulfillment.  At dusk, it began to open its outer petals…

DSC_0013 Pitahaya bloom begins

… revealing its glistening white, seductive inner petals.

DSC_0015 Pitahaya evening bloom

Over 20 pale yellow stigma lobes extended outward to catch pollen that will travel down through the style to the ovary.

DSC_0022 Pitahaya night bloom profile

These flowers have as many as 800 pollen-producing anthers on stamens.**

DSC_0017 Pitahaya's ecstatic bloom

Sometimes called Dragon fruit or Belle of the Night,* this species of plants seems to mysteriously know when the moon is about to be full as the most opportune time to exhibit its spectacular floral displays that will attract and excite moths and bats and enhance fertilization.

DSC_0026 800 stamens & 1 stigma

The bloom lingered open during the early morning hours presenting additional opportunities for honeybees to gather pollen and pollinate the flower, as happened last year.

DSC_0087 Pitahaya & honey bees

DSC_0046 Pitahaya's last call for bees

But this time, no bees came, so I used a small brush to pollinate the pitahaya flower…*

DSC_0027 Pitahaya's swan song

… just before its swan song.* (The blossoms last only one night in Southern California.)

DSC_0007 Pitahaya blooms's death

Hopefully, this year’s first bloom will yield fruit that we can enjoy picking and eating.*

DSC_0130 Pitahaya fruit

DSC_0169 White-fleshed Pitahaya

Update, July 25, 2015

Alas, my attempt to use a small brush to pollinate the pitahaya flower seen at the beginning of this post failed, and since there were no bees present to do the job, this Belle of the Night flower dried up and fell off yielding no fruit.

However, the joy that I felt as this flower reached up for the heavens and opened fully under the bright full moon for only one precious night lingers in my memory and reminds me of the importance of being present in the moment and cherishing the beauty around me.

DSC_0025 Pitahaya bloom 2015

Additional information: How to grow pitahaya (dragon fruit).*

Additional inspiration:  The Great Bell Chant and Ode to Joy and Simply the Best!

Author’s note: Please see my latest update in my post, “Spring flowers, leaves and end of life options,” on the progress of SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, as it makes its way through the California Legislature (currently stalled, but not dead!).

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

** Pitahaya: A Promising New Fruit Crop for Southern California, Paul H. Thomson, produced by Leo W. Manuel, 2002.

About Bill D.

Bill is a retired RN who has enjoyed working as a docent in a well-known historic house museum, and now is a proud volunteer in San Diego's newest state-of-the-art hospital, Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center. He enjoys reading, writing, and meditating, especially about mindfulness as discussed by Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh. (Photo credit: Jokie Tolentino)
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