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Item ID: 44
Species: greggii var. transmontanus
Common Name: Queen of the Night, Night Blooming Cereus, Sweet Potato cactus
Habitat: The Queen of the Night is found growing among desert shrubs and trees such as mesquite and palo-verde at elevations from 1,000 to 3,500 feet. Because of the color of the stems it is often quite hard to find among the vegetation and can easily be overlooked.
Range: This cactus occurs in parts of Cochise, Maricopa and Pima counties in Arizona and south into Sonora, Mexico.
Care: This is a great plant for a dry weather garden that is not controlled by drip or by other means of irrigation. Plants are usually purchased at a small size and you can easily transplant it to your garden very easily where it can grow into a flowering specimen in several years. Plants will need to be placed under the protection of other vegetation until they can grow and mature.
Propagation: New plants are best grown from seed although cuttings can be rooted easily.
Size: Peniocereus greggii has a large tubular root that can weight up to 80 pounds or more. The above ground plant that is seen can be as much as 4 feet in height with numerous branched stems.
Flowers: The large white flowers of this plant are nocturnal and begin their display in late May. Older, long-time residents talk of having specimens with up to 100 flowers open on a single night.
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Barber ©2002
This plant is hard to misidentify when found in and around the Tucson area. It is found usually hidden from view because of the stems that appear at first to be only dead limbs fallen from a tree. The plant is a dull gray color with sometimes purplish edging. The spines are very short and close to the plant along the tapering stems that are very thin at the base and wider ate the top. The stems can be easily broken off as they are quite fragile and brittle at the base.
Lyman Benson states that plant distribution within its' native habitat is almost entirely controlled by birds that feed on the rather large bright red fruit. The seed is dispersed and usually germinated under the protection of trees and shrubs where it is safe from being browsed or trampled by predators. The flowers produce a very fragrant smell that can be a delightful experience for anyone who loves the Sonoran desert.
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