Peniocereus greggii

Accession Count: 10
Common Name: Night Blooming Cereus, Arizona Queen of the Night
Family Name: Cactaceae
Botanical Name: Peniocereus greggii
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Cultivar:
Characteristics: Peniocereus greggii is part of the cacti family and is very unique for its flowers. It has many slender stems and cylindrical upper shoots. The stems are typically one inch in diameter. P. greggi is a tuberous rooted flowering plant that blooms fragrant, six-to-eight inch long and three inch wide flowers. Unlike most cacti this species only blooms once a year for a throughout the night in late June or early July.The flowers are generally five to ten centimeters in diameter and are white with a very strong scent that some say smells like vanilla (2).
Compound: Pen gre
Geographic Origin: Desert Southwest
Ecozone Origin: Nearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: This species is native to the desert southwest including areas of southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico (1). Throughout history this species has been known and been used for religious ceremonies, medicinal benefits, and even as ornamentals (3).
Cultivation Notes: Peniocereus greggii can be propagated from either seed or short stem cuttings (3). Once established this species is known to have large tuberous roots that are similar to potatoes (4). Generally this plant species grows around or under desert ironwood, creosote bushes, and other desert shrubs that provide shade, support and concealment (2) and which provide a perch or habitat for birds that consume and defecate the seed in the soil below. This cacti species only flowers once a year at night (usually in June or July) and for the rest of the year it appears rather unruly, even looking dead, to the untrained eye. The following morning around sunrise, the flower dies. Unlike other cacti, P. greggii is not self-fertile and has widely varying individuals as a result (2). These flowers are cross-pollinated by hawk moths (2). P. greggi also typically has a slow growth rate, uses little water and does well in full sun, or partially shady environments. These cacti are also hardy plants, suffering damage at temperatures below 10℉.

Though the plant stems are often eaten by herbivores such as packrats (Neotoma albigula) and cactus borers (Cactobrosis fernaldialis), new stems sprout from the specialized underground storage organs in response to this herbivory (2)
Ethnobotany: Peniocereus greggii has some medicinal value and has also been used in religious ceremonies and ornamentals (3). Some of its medicinal benefits come from its tuberous roots which have been used to help treat diabetes and other maladies (6). The roots have also been used by the Tohono O'dham, who they boiled and drank the roots to help with respiratory problems, headaches, and digestion (6). The flowers have also been used in aromatherapy and ornamentally, due to it strong fragrance that some say smells like vanilla (4).

Height: 0 - 5 feet
Width: 6 - 10 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season: Spring
Flower Season: Summer
Color: White
Function: Accent
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Tender
Water Use: Low water Use
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Peniocereus greggii