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Origin and Habitat: Epiphyllum oxypetalum is native to Mexico, in the States of Chiapas, Tabasco and Veracruz, and in Guatemala in the departments of Izabal, Alta Vera Paz and Quiché, but it is now found in most part of Central America and Northern South America. It can be found from Mexico, Guatemala to Venezuela, as well as Brazil. It also can be found, cultivated in parts of America with warmer temperature such as Texas or California. It is also found in various parts of India such as Mumbai, Bangalore,Chennai, Ranchi, Uttrakhand etc. It is widely cultivated elsewhere in tropical and subtropical areas and has escaped from cultivation and naturalized in many places.
Altitude range. (75-)200-600(-2000) metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a warm climate species occurring in tropical moist forest. Land use change for agriculture, cattle ranching and logging are the main threats, but the species is widespread, common, and there are no major threats to it. The species is used as ornament, however this does not affect wild populations.
- Epiphyllum oxypetalum (DC.) Haw.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum (DC.) Haw.
Philos. Mag. Ann. Chem. (Aug 1829) 109.
- Epiphyllum oxypetalum (DC.) Haw.
- Epiphyllum acuminatum K.Schum.
- Phyllocactus acuminatus (K.Schum.) K.Schum.
- Epiphyllum grande (Lem.) Britton & Rose
- Phyllocactus grandis Lem.
- Epiphyllum latifrons (Pfeiff.) Zucc. ex Pfeiff.
- Epiphyllum oxypetalum var. purpusii (Weing.) Backeb.
ENGLISH: Queen of the Night, Dutchman's Pipe Cactus, Orchid Cactus, Night Queen, Jungle Cactus, Dutchman's Pipe, Night Blooming Cereus
CHINESE (中文): Jin Gou Lian, Qiong Hua, Yue Xia Mei Ren, 曇花 (Tan-Hua)
GERMAN (Deutsch): Königer Der Nacht
HINDI ( हिन्दी): Nishagandhi, Gul-E-Bakawali
HUNGARIAN (Magyar): Levélkaktusz
INDONESIAN (Bahasa Indonesia): Wijaya Kusuma
JAPANESE (日本語): 月下美人 (Gekka Bijin)
LITHUANIAN (Lietuvių): Didysis lapenis
MARATHI (मराठी): Brahma Kamal, Nishagandhi
RUSSIAN (Русский): Эпифиллум остролепестный
SPANISH (Español): Reins De La Noche, Nopalillo Criollo
SWEDISH (Svenska): Stor Bladkaktus
THAI (ภาษาไทย): Dtohn Boh Dtan
URDU (اردو): Bakavali
Description: Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a stout epiphytic or lithophytic, spineless cactus 3 meters long or more, much branched with aerial roots. This species has long been cultivated and has always been a great favourite on account of the ease with which it is grown and the abundance of large white flowers it furnishes. These begin to open in the early evening and are perfect about midnight. It is the most commonly grown of the Epiphyllum species. E. oxypetalum is closely related to Epiphyllum thomasianum and Epiphyllum pumilum, but quite distinct.
Derivation of specific name: Oxypetalum (Lat.) = with acute petals, refers to the acute petals of this species.
Stems: Erect, ascending, scandent or sprawling, profusely branched, primary stems terete, to 2–6 m long, flattened laterally, woody at base, flowering branches articulate, flat, leaf-like, elliptic-acuminate, 15-40 cm long, 5-6(-12) cm wide, thin; margins shallowly to deeply crenate and more or less undulate with slightly thickened median vertical axis.
Areoles: Small, spineless.
Flowers: Nocturnal opening in the evening, solitary, sessile, drooping and limp after anthesis, very fragrant, produced from subapical marginal areoles in flattened portions, funnel form (20-)25-30 cm long, (10-)12-17(-20) cm wide. Pericarpel nude, slightly angled, base green, 4-10 mm across, bracteoles (scvales) short. Receptacle tube (12-)13-18(-20) cm long, brownish, arching, bearing distant narrow triangular to lanceolate scales, bent forward 90°, ca 3-10 mm long. Segments numerous Outer perianth segments (or sepaloids) linear to oblanceolate, acute, often recurved 8–10 cm long, increasing in width progressively to the inside, pale green, pinkish red, reddish or amber. Inner perianth segments (or petaloids) oblanceolate to oblong, acuminate, (6-)7-8(-10) cm long and (2,5-)2-3(-4,5) cm wide, whitish. Stamens numerous, inserted on the throat, greenish white or white, slender and weak filaments, 2.5-5 mm and pale cream anthers, 3-3.5 mm. Style greenish white or white (or orangey, red), 20-22 cm long and curved, 4 mm thick, as long as inner tepals, stigma lobes 15-2, cream-colored or white, narrowly linear, 1.6-1.8 mm long entire. Ovary inferior, unilocular, ovules on parietal placentae. Generally dropped after anthesis.
Blooming season: It flowers in late spring or early summer; large specimens can produce several crops of flowers in a season.
Fruit: Seldom seen, oblong, 12-16 x 6-8 cm, purplish red, angled.
Seed: 2-2.5 x 1.5 mm.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Anderson EF “The cactus family.” Timber Press, Portland, 2001
2) Hammel, B. 2013. “Epiphyllum oxypetalum.” The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 February 2015.
3) T. K. Lim “Edible Medicinal And Non-Medicinal Plants” Volume 7, Flowers, Volume 7 Springer Science & Business Media, 08 nov 2013
4) Shiu-ying Hu “Food Plants of China” Chinese University Press, 2005
5) Wikipedia contributors. "Epiphyllum oxypetalum." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Jan. 2015. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.
6) N. L. Britton, J. N. Rose “The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family.” Volume 4, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 1923
7) Nathaniel Lord Britton, Joseph Nelson Rose: “The genus Epiphyllum and its allies.” In: Contributions from the United States National Herbarium. 16: 255–262, tab 78–84, 1913
8) Teresa M. Chen "A Tradition of Soup: Flavors from China's Pearl River Delta" North Atlantic Books, 2009
9) Li ZY, Taylor NP (2007) “Cactaceae.” In: Wu ZY, Raven PH, Hong DY (eds) Flora of China, vol 13, Clusiaceae through Araliaceae. Science Press/Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing/St. Louis
10) Matsuura N (2002) “The analysis of the aroma ingredients of the flower of Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxy-petalum Haw.)”. Korio 214:129-133
11) Supendra RS, Khandelwal P (2012) “Assessment of nutritive values, phytochemical constituents and bio-therapeutic potentials of Epiphyllum oxypetalum.” Int J Pharm Pharm Sci 4(5):420-425
Cultivation and Propagation: Epiphyllum oxypetalum is easy to grow and tolerates neglect. This plant (as with all Epiphyllum) prefers partial shade, and requires ample summer water (more than other cacti), but allow soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Growth rate: These forest cacti are fast growing and tend to be long lived.
Exposure: It grows well in full sun or light afternoon shade. Shade is sometimes provided in hot climates. Extra light in the early spring will stimulate budding.
Soil: Epiphyllums aren't usually too picky as to soil type, but because of their epiphytic nature, it is recommended to grow them in well-drained soil mix largely composed of organic material, such as peat or sphagnum moss. This type of soil would normally be used for orchids, bromeliads or other epiphytic plants.
Waterings: During the growing season (March-August), the plants are watered on a regular basis, making sure that they never dry out completely. They are fertilized on a monthly basis with a balanced fertilizer during this period. In late August, water is restricted to about once a week until January. Night temperatures at this time should be about 10° C. In January or February, watering is stopped for a period of 4 weeks to aid in flower formation. In March, regular watering is resumed and the plant will flower in 6 to 8 weeks.
Remarks: These plants drop their buds easily if they are moved. Once flower buds have formed, DO NOT MOVE the plant, as slight changes in environment may cause the buds to drop.
Hardiness: Prefers nighttime temperatures no cooler than 12° C, especially in the winter. Will tolerate temperatures to 45° C, and short periods of frost, but prolonged cold will damage or kill the plant. Protect from frost.
Traditional Medicinal Uses Epiphyllum oxypetalum is used in homeopathy and recommended for urinary tract infections, for heart conditions such as the crushing pain of angina and for spasmodic pain and haemorrhage . In folk medicine, the plant has also been used to treat the spitting up of blood sputum and heavy or painful menstrual periods. The juice of the plant has been used for bladder infections, shortness of breath and water retention. Applied externally, it has been used for rheumatism. It is also assumed to be an aphrodisiac.
Edible Plant Parts and Uses: Flower; gathered the day after blooming, dried, used in making soup. The white mucilaginous flowers turn yellow when dried. They are edible and sour in taste. Sold in packages in Chinese grocery stores, the flowers should be soaked before cooking in soup. They are traditionally used to clear phlegm and strengthen the lungs. The fresh blossoms can also be used in vegetable soups.
Pests and diseases: Usually remains remarkably free from disease.
Propagation: The plant is easily propagated from the leaflike stem cuttings or (rarely) by seed in the spring. Seed should be sown in well-drained compost and should germinate in 14 to 28 days at 18 to 21° C.
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