Epiphyllum oxypetalum

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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
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 or queen of the night) is a species of cactus and one of the most cultivated species in the genus. 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.


  • Cereus oxypetalus Moc. & Sesse ex de Candolle (1828) Prodr. 3:470
  • Cactus oxypetalus Moc. & Sessé ex DC. (1828) Prodr. 3:470
  • Epiphyllum oxypetalum (de Candolle) Haworth (1829) Phil. Mag. 6:109
  • Epiphyllum purpusii (Weing.) F.M.Knuth (1936) Kaktus-ABC 161
  • Cactus oxypetalus Moc. & Sessé ex DC. (1837) Denkschr. Königl. Akad. Wiss. München 2: 735
  • Epiphyllum latifrons (Zucc.) Pfeiff. (1837) Enum. Diagn. Cact. 125
  • Cereus latifrons Pfeiffer (1838) Enom. cact. 125
  • Phyllocactus oxypetalus (de Candolle) Link ex Walpers (1843) Repert. Bot. 2:341
  • Phyllocactus latifrons (Pfeiffer) Link ex Walpers (1843) Repert. Bot. 2:341
  • Phyllocactus grandis Lemaire (1847) Fl. Serr. 3:225. b.
  • Phyllocactus guyanensis Brongnart ex Labouret (1853) Monogr. Cact. 416
  • Epiphyllum acuminatum K. Schumann in Martius (1890) Fl. Bras. 4:222
  • Phyllocactus acuminatus (K. Schumann) K. Schumann (1897) Gesamtb. Kakt. 213
  • Phyllocactus purpursii Weingart (1907) Moatsschr. Kakteenk. 17:34
  • Epiphyllum grande (Lemaire) Britton & Rose (1913) Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 16:257
  • Epiphyllum oxypetalum var. purpusii (Weingart) Backeberg (1959) Cactac.: Handb. Kakteenk. 2: 747


Oxypetalum (Lat.) = with acute petals, refers to the acute petals of this species.


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.

Native to Central America and Northern South America[citation needed], E. oxypetalum blooms rarely and only at night and the flower wilts before dawn.

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 does probably not deserve any botanical recognition.[citation needed]

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]

Origin and habitat[edit]

It can be found from Mexico to Venezuela, as well as Brazil. It also can be found, cultivated in parts of America with warmer temperature such as Texas or California. Epiphytic or lithophytic. 75-2000 m alt. Widely cultivated and escaped in many places and its true origin has never been fully understood.


Side view of the flower

This species is closely related to E. thomasianum and E. pumilum, but quite distinct.


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.


External links[edit]

Media related to Epiphyllum oxypetalum at Wikimedia Commons