Epiphyllum oxypetalum

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"Nishagandhi" redirects here. For the film, see Nishagandhi (film).
Epiphyllum oxypetalum
Flower of Epiphyllum oxypetalum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Epiphyllum
Species: E. oxypetalum
Binomial name
Epiphyllum oxypetalum
(DC.) Haworth
  • Cactus oxypetalus Moc. & Sessé ex DC.
  • Cereus latifrons Zucc.
  • Cereus oxypetalus DC.
  • Epiphyllum acuminatum K.Schum.
  • Epiphyllum grande (Lem.) Britton & Rose
  • Epiphyllum latifrons (Zucc.) Pfeiff.
  • Epiphyllum purpusii (Weing.) F.M.Knuth
  • Phyllocactus acuminatus (K. Schum.) K. Schum.
  • Phyllocactus grandis Lem.
  • Phyllocactus latifrons (Zucc.) Link ex Walp.
  • Phyllocactus oxypetalus (DC.) Link
  • Phyllocactus purpusii Weing.
Young flower buds in Spring. Longer bud about 4 cm long.
"Nishagandhi/Brahma Kamalam" aka "Queen of the Night" in Bloom

Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Dutchman's pipe cactus[2] or queen of the night[citation needed]) is a species of cactus and one of the most cultivated species in the genus. E. oxypetalum blooms rarely and only at night and the flower wilts before dawn. Though it is sometimes referred to as a nightblooming cereus, it is not closely related to any of the species in the tribe Cereeae, such as Selenicereus, that are more commonly known as nightblooming cereus. All Cereus bloom at night and are terrestrial plants; all Epiphyllum are epiphytic.


The species is native to Southern Mexico and to extensive areas of south America. It is widely cultivated, and has become naturalised in China.[2]


Oxypetalum (Latin) = with acute petals

Vernacular names[edit]

Details of the front side of flower

In India it is called Brahma Kamalam, named after the Hindu god of creation, Lord Brahma. It is also believed that the wishes of People who pray to God while the flower is blooming will be fulfilled.

The Chinese chengyu (four character idiom) 曇花一現 (tan hua yi xian) uses this flower (tan-hua; 曇花) to describe someone who has an impressive but very brief moment of glory, like a "flash in a pan", since the flower can take a year to bloom and only blooms over a single night. Therefore someone described as "曇花一現" is generally understood to be a person who shows off or unexpectedly gains some achievement and is thought to be an exception or only lucky. The flower also has a rich history in Japan, where it is known as the 月下美人 (Gekka Bijin) or "Beauty under the Moon".[citation needed]


Side view of the flower

This species is closely related to E. thomasianum and E. pumilum, but quite distinct.[citation needed] In 1909, C. A. Purpus collected a slightly different type in St. Ana, Orizaba, Mexico. It has carmine red outer petals and the flowers have an unpleasant smell, rather than being fragrant. It was originally named Phyllocactus purpusii, but is now included within this species.


An easily cultivated, fast growing Epiphyllum. It flowers in late spring or early summer; large specimens can produce several crops of flowers in a season. This is the most commonly grown of the Epiphyllum species.


Stems erect, ascending, scandent or sprawling, profusely branched, primary stems terete, to 2–6 m long, flattened laterally, ligneous at base, secondary stems flat, elliptic-acuminate, to 30 cm x 10–12 cm, thin; margins shallowly to deeply crenate and ± undulate. Flowers produced from flattened portions, to 30 cm long, 12–17 cm wide, nocturnal, very fragrant. The principal odor component in the aroma is benzyl salicylate; pericarpel nude, slightly angled, green, bracteoles short; receptacle 13–20 cm long, 1 cm thick, brownish, arching, bracteoles narrow, ca 10 mm long; outer tepals linear, acute, 8–10 cm long reddish to amber; inner tepals oblanceolate to oblong, acuminate, to 8–10 cm long and 2,5 cm wide, whitish; stamens greenish white or white, slender and weak; style greenish white or white, 4 mm thick, as long as inner tepals, lobes many, pale yellow or white. Fruit oblong, 12 x 8 cm, purplish red, angled.


  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 6 August 2016 
  2. ^ a b USDA GRIN Taxonomy, retrieved 6 August 2016 

External links[edit]

Media related to Epiphyllum oxypetalum at Wikimedia Commons