||This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2009)|
Night-blooming cereus is the common name referring to a large number of flowering Cereus cacti that bloom at night. The flowers are short lived, and some of these species, such as Selenicereus grandiflorus, bloom only once a year, for a single night. The night-blooming cereus is also referred to as princess of the night, Honolulu queen (for Hylocereus undatus), and queen of the night.
Most night-blooming cereus refer to flowering cacti of the Cereus genus. While many cacti referred to as night-blooming cereus belong to the Tribe Cereeae, other night-blooming cacti in the Subfamily Cactoideae may also be called night-blooming cereus. Cacti called cereus include these genera and/or species:
- Echinopsis (usually Echinopsis pachanoi, San Pedro cactus)
- Epiphyllum (usually Epiphyllum oxypetalum, Gooseneck cactus; grown as an indoor houseplant throughout the world, and the most popular cultivated night-blooming cereus)
- Hylocereus (of which Hylocereus undatus is the most frequently cultivated outdoors, and is the main source of the commercial fruit crop, dragonfruit)
- Nyctocereus (usually Nyctocereus serpentinus)
- Peniocereus (Peniocereus greggii, the best known, is strictly a desert plant which grows from an underground tuber and is infrequently cultivated)
- Selenicereus (usually Selenicereus grandiflorus)
Regardless of genus or species, night-blooming cereus flowers are almost always white, often large, and frequently fragrant. Most of the flowers open after nightfall, and by dawn, most are in the process of wilting. The plants that bear such flowers can be tall, columnar, and sometimes extremely large and tree-like, but more frequently are thin-stemmed climbers. While some night-blooming cereus are grown indoors in homes or greenhouses in colder climates, most of these plants are too large or ungainly for this treatment, and are only found outdoors in tropical areas.
Cultivation and uses 
Some night-blooming cereus plants produce fruits which are large enough for people to consume. These include some of the members of the genus Cereus, but most commonly the fruit of the Hylocereus. Hylocereus fruit have the advantage of lacking exterior spines, in contrast to the fruit of cacti such as the Selenicereus fruit, being brightly colored, and having a pleasant taste. Since the late 1990s, Hylocereus fruit have been commercially grown and sold in tropical locations like Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hawaii.
Around 2000, the name dragonfruit was created for promotional purposes in English-speaking countries, undoubtedly influenced by the very successful renaming of "hairy gooseberries" as "kiwifruit" earlier in the 20th century. The unusual exterior of a Hylocereus fruit, with its protruding growths, inspired the reference to dragons. Hylocereus fruits are also called pitaya. Increasing commercial cultivation and the hybridizing of new varieties is occurring for this fairly new crop. However, dragonfruit are usually somewhat expensive during their season (summer) and are still a specialty for most consumers.
In culture and media 
In anime 
- In the popular anime series Wolf's Rain, they are referenced as "the lunar flowers", and would lead the wolves' way to paradise.
In flora 
- In the 18th century, Dr. Robert John Thornton commissioned the creation of lavishly illustrated portfolio of flora called "Temple of Flora". Plate #14 is of a "Night Blowing Cereus"[sic] (Missouri Botanical Garden Library).
- In Hawaii, night-blooming cereus crown the lava rocks  that border Punahou School. They are so associated with the school that their Hawaiian name is panini o kapunahou. and are regularly seen in many of the school's graphics, including that of the class of '74.
In literature 
Alphabetical, by author's last name:
- The night-blooming cereus was also featured in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy book series as the name of one of the Thirteen Houses of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers.
- Shani Mootoo's novel refers to the flower in the title: Cereus Blooms at Night.
- The opening chapter of The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman mentions the flower.
- The Night-Blooming Cereus is the title of a poem as well as a volume of poetry by Robert Hayden.
- The Night-Blooming Cereus is the title of a 1986 novel by Joan Hess under the name Joan Hadley. New England florist Theo Bloomer solves a mystery in Israel while his cereus approaches bloom at home.
- The flower is mentioned in Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, a Newbery Medal award-winning novel.
- The night-blooming cereus was featured in Barbara Kingsolver's book The Bean Trees. Taylor, Turtle, Lou Ann and Dwayne Ray witness the blooming of the cereus flower at their neighbours' house (Edna Poppy and Virgie Mae Parsons) towards the end of the novel (chapter 13).
- In Bride of the Water God by Yun Mi-kyung, the night-blooming cereus is referred to as the "Loneliness of the Night" and refers most specifically to Epiphyllum oxypetalum. The flowers are described as being paired, so if one flower is plucked, another flower will die somewhere else. Therefore, they are also given the nickname "short-lived love".
- Eric Nuzum refers to a night-blooming cereus in his new memoir "Giving Up the Ghost."
- The book Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli mentions the night-blooming cereus several times.
- John Wesley, "John Wesley's Journal", Mon. 24 July 1780, describes the blooming and fading of the "Nightly Cereus" which had a 125mm dia. white centre, and 225mm dia. "yellow ray" petals.
- In her book The Warmth of Other Suns author Isabel Wilkerson recounts her mother's memories of her grandmother's night-blooming cereus and the yearly neighborhood ritual of watching it "decide to undrape its petals".
In music 
- Appears as the cover photo of Morphine's album The Night.
In television 
- Also mentioned in an episode of Aquarion.
- In the Dennis the Menace episode "Dennis and the Camera", Mr. Wilson (Joseph Kearns) attempts to catch a photograph of a night-blooming cereus to earn free publicity for his garden club in the local paper.