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Night-blooming cereus is the common name referring to a large number of flowering ceroid cacti that bloom at night. The flowers are short lived, and some of these species, such as Selenicereus grandiflorus, bloom only once a year, for a single night. Other names for one or more cacti with this habit are princess of the night, Honolulu queen (for Hylocereus undatus), Christ in the Manger, and queen of the night (which is also used for an unrelated plant species).
While many cacti referred to as night-blooming cereus belong to the tribe Cereeae, other night-blooming cacti in the subfamily Cactoideae may also be called night-blooming cereus. Cacti which may be called by this name include:
Regardless of genus or species, night-blooming cereus flowers are almost always white or very pale shades of other colors, often large, and frequently fragrant. Most of the flowers open after nightfall, and by dawn, most are in the process of wilting. The plants that bear such flowers can be tall, columnar, and sometimes extremely large and tree-like, but more frequently are thin-stemmed climbers. While some night-blooming cereus are grown indoors in homes or greenhouses in colder climates, most of these plants are too large or ungainly for this treatment, and are only found outdoors in tropical areas.
Some night-blooming cereus plants produce fruits which are large enough for people to consume. These include some of the members of the genus Cereus, but most commonly the fruit of the Hylocereus. Hylocereus fruit have the advantage of lacking exterior spines, in contrast to the fruit of cacti such as the Selenicereus fruit, being brightly colored, and having a pleasant taste. Since the late 1990s, Hylocereus fruit have been commercially grown and sold in tropical locations like Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hawaii.
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