A Peruvian Apple Cactus interlude

(Updated August 20, 2015)

We were surprised to see a flower bud because just two months earlier we had placed Peruvian Apple Cactus cuttings into large planters filled with a homemade cactus planting mix containing potting soil, coir, perlite and sand.

DSC_0049 Peruvian Apple Cactus bud

Per Wikipedia, the Peruvian Apple Cactus,* Cereus repandus (aka Cereus peruvianus), is a large, erect, thorny, columnar cactus that has flowers that remain open for one night only and yield an edible and tasty fruit.*

The first flower bud opening began with August’s Full Sturgeon Moon.*  By late afternoon, the first of its pure white inner petals could be seen.  It seemed so happy and eager to surge forth and display its beauty to the world and, in particular, to the night’s moths and bats and to the morning’s bees that would hopefully come to gather pollen.

DSC_0052 Peruvian Apple Cactus bud close-up

At nightfall, I gathered up my tripod, headlamp, and camera to record the event.

DSC_0059 Full bloom for full moon

The headlamp was too bright, so I took it off, moved it away, and brought over a candle lantern that added a yellow, softer light in our backyard garden patio.  It became a happy, magical moment and even the nearby tiki seemed happy to watch my antics.

DSC_0084 Cactus bloom, lantern & tiki

This softer combination of light helped the Peruvian Apple Cactus show off its lovely, seductive, natural beauty.

DSC_0097 Peruvian Apple Cactus bloom

Hundreds of dancing stamens holding pollen laden anthers surround the stigma seen in the lower right, which receives and transports pollen to the ovary.

DSC_0100 Peruvian cactus bloom close-up

This cactus is self-fertile and to increase the chances for pollination, I used a small, soft brush to move pollen onto the stigma.  Once the deed was done, I noticed that others were also here watching and smiling, such as Guan Yin, Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.

DSC_0103 Our smiling Kuan Yin

Guan Yin is often shown wearing a white, flowing robe (symbol of purity) and holding a vase of life-sustaining water.  Guan Yin is seen in our garden riding on a Chinese guardian lion, and in the house, riding on a Chinese dragon.

DSC_0108 Kuan Yin rides guardian lion

DSC_0198 Guan Yin riding Chinese dragon

(Hear and see a Kuan Yin meditation*)

After the night’s celebration under the full moon, the exhausted flower closed in the morning.

DSC_0132 Morning closure of cactus bloom

I was glad that I assisted with the flower’s pollination because no bees were seen that morning.  And I was thrilled a few days later when the flower fell off and I saw the beginnings of a fruit, but saddened later in the week when the fruit fell off.

DSC_0166 Fallen flower, growing cactus fruit

The spectacular beauty of this flower blooming for only one precious night reminded me of the impermanence of life and of the importance of appreciating and celebrating the flowers* and returning to the present moment,* and being in touch with the wonders of life.*

*This is a YouTube video.

Author’s notes:

  1. Please see my latest update in my post, “Spring flowers, leaves and end of life options,” on the progress of the End of Life Option Act, as it makes its way through the California Legislature.  I am happy to report that on August 18 this legislation has been reintroduced in a special session of the California Legislature as Assembly Bill X2-15 (ABX2-15). Additional information can be seen on Compassion & Choices‘ web page.

2.  Oh, and there’s just one more thing… a YouTube video:  I’m Ridin with Biden!*

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About Bill D.

Bill is a retired RN who enjoys working as a docent in a historic house museum, 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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