XCIX
Queen of the night
This plant, Epiphyllum oxypetalum is also known as Dutchman's Pipe. It's a tropical cactus that lives in the canopy of other trees (making it an epiphyte). This particular plant is in the greenhouse at Carleton University, where my friend Adam has been watching over it carefully. He's been waiting for the rare flower that lasts only a single night, blooming in the dark somewhere between 8 and 10pm. On Sunday I got a phone call from him at 9:30 that the event was on.

I jumped in the car and went down there with an old Vivitar flash. By setting a small aperture, long exposure and with the lights off, I could leave the camera shutter open for 10-15 seconds and still capture a completely dark frame. Then Adam moved the flash around, manually triggering flashes from beside, underneath or even behind the flower.

Here are three frames from that evening. I collaged them so that you could see the flower overall, the beauty of the interior and the incredible spherical shape when viewed from the side. These flowers are pollinated by bats, so I figure all the petals are there to make the flower easier to see by echolocation.

This flower truly is the queen of the night.

Posted: 2009-11-17.   Shot: .
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