TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It is an event thousands look forward to every year - the mass blooming of the ‘Queen of the Night’, otherwise known as the night-blooming cereus Peniocereus greggii.
Fans of this unique occurrence know that as soon as desert temperatures climb, thanks to summer heat, the buds of the night-blooming cereus begin to make an appearance. While the exact night the bloom will happen is still not known, Tohono Chul’s plant expert is reporting it is likely to happen Saturday night, July 13, from 6 p.m. to midnight.
"We’ve been studying the night-blooming cereus for over 20 years and we still don’t know what triggers the bloom. The best we can figure is there is some type of chemical communication amongst the cacti," said Lee Mason, Director of General Services for Tohono Chul.
The reason for the mass bloom is pollination. The cactus cannot self-pollinate, so they all bloom on the same evening to ensure that pollination, generally by the hawk moth takes place. The more blooms that open, the greater the chances of pollination.
Guests to the garden will be able to view the blooms thanks to illuminated trails leading to each plant, there will be lectures and a chance for guests to purchase or even win their own 'Queen of the Night'.
Bloom night attendees will need to wear closed-toe walking shoes, bring a flashlight, stay hydrated and have a camera with a flash.
Admission is free for Tohono Chul members and children under 12 years of age, $5 tickets will be available at the door for all non-members.
Upon the official bloom call, Tohono Chul galvanizes its forces, enlisting dozens of volunteers for help, and using social media to promote the magnificent occasion.