(Updated July 25, 2015)
It began with the waxing of the Full Buck Moon.*
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.*
It reached up in its quest for fulfillment. At dusk, it began to open its outer petals…
… revealing its glistening white, seductive inner petals.
Over 20 pale yellow stigma lobes extended outward to catch pollen that will travel down through the style to the ovary.
These flowers have as many as 800 pollen-producing anthers on stamens.**
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.
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.
But this time, no bees came, so I used a small brush to pollinate the pitahaya flower…*
… just before its swan song.* (The blossoms last only one night in Southern California.)
Hopefully, this year’s first bloom will yield fruit that we can enjoy picking and eating.*
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.
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.