Selenicereus grandiflorus

Selenicereus grandiflorus

The queen of the night (Selenicereus grandiflorus (L.) Britton & Rose, 1909) is a perennial species belonging to the Cactaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Subarign Tracheobionta, Superdivisione Spermatophyta, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Subclass Caryophyllidae, Order Caryophyllales, Family Cactaceae, Subfamily Cactoideae and therefore to the Genus Selenicereus grandus and to the Genus Selenicereus and therefore to the Genus Selenicereus.
The terms are synonymous:
– Cactus grandiflorus L. (1753);
– Cereus donkelaarii Salm-Dyck Allg. Gartenz .;
– Cereus grandiflorus (L.) Mill. (1768) Gard. Dict .;
– Cereus grandiflorus affinis Salm-Dyck (1850);
– Cereus grandiflorus var. spectabilis Karwinsky in Förster (1846);
– Cereus scandens minor Boerhaave in Arendt (1891);
– Cereus schmidtii (1894) Monatsschr. Kakteenk .;
– Cereus grandiflorus var. lesser Salm-Dyck;
– Cereus tellii hort. to Hildmann (1895);
– Cereus grandiflorus var. haitiensis (1903);
– Cereus hondurensis K. Schumann in Weingart (1904);
– Cereus grandiflorus uranos Riccobono (1909);
– Selenicereus donkelaarii (Salm-Dyck) Britton & Rose (1917);
– Selenicereus grandiflorus var. affinis (Salm-Dyck) Borg (1951);
– Selenicereus grandiflorus var. tellii (hort. ex Riccobono) Borg (1951);
– Selenicereus grandiflorus var. uranos (Riccobono) Borg (1951);
– Cereus uranos hort .;
– Selenicereus hondurensis (K. Schumann) Britton & Rose (1909).
Four subspecies of this species are recognized:
– Selenicereus grandiflorus ssp. donkelaarii (Salm-Dyck) Ralf Bauer;
– Selenicereus grandiflorus ssp. grandiflorus;
– Selenicereus grandiflorus ssp. hondurensis (K. Schum. ex Weing.) Ralf Bauer;
– Selenicereus grandiflorus ssp. lautneri Ralf Bauer.

Etymology –
The term Selenicereus comes from the Greek Σελήνη Seléne Selene, goddess of the Moon, and from Cereus cero: due to the columnar shape of many species of this genus and from the nocturnal flowering.
The specific epithet grandiflorus comes from grandis grande and flos fiore: with large flowers.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The queen of the night is a plant native to South America: Greater Antilles (Cuba, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Haiti), Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and a few other locations in South and Central America.
Its habitat is mainly in the coastal region of the states of Vera Cruz and Taumalipas. It is grown in greenhouses, as an ornamental plant. In its natural state it is found at altitudes around 700 meters above sea level. climbing trees and rocks.

Description –
Selenicereus grandiflorus is a succulent plant with scented, climbing or sprawling, branched stems, which sometimes form tangles, producing aerial, rigid roots, up to 10 m long or more, and 15–25 (–30) mm thick.
It has ribs on the branches which are less than on the older branches, separated by wide rounded intervals, from slightly wavy to strongly gnarled; presence of small areoles, wool white or greyish white and internodes of (6–) 12–20 mm. The spines in number from 5-18, to 4.5-12 mm, at the base of about 0.25 mm in diameter, acicular, elliptical or circular in cross section, bulbous basally, diffuse, yellowish brown to brownish or yellow. Presence of any deciduous hairs from the lower part of the areoles ± numerous mature vegetative areolas, white or brownish, generally without hair; in the juvenile state the plants have fewer thorns and shorter.
The epidermis is smooth, glaucous green or bluish green, often more or less purplish.
The flowers are 17-22.5 cm long and up to 38 cm wide. These have a fragrance reminiscent of vanilla and orange blossom; the pericarp is 25 mm long, with 5 mm braces, band-shaped and yellowish, covered with almost white or tawny hairs and sharp bristles; the receptacle is 7.5–8.7 cm; it has bracts of 5–14 mm, of linear belt shape, yellowish with long wavy hair, almost white or tawny and sharp bristles at the armpits, about 25 mm long; the external tepals are 7.5-10 cm long, 4.5 mm wide on average, linear attenuated, light brown, salmon to pink; the internal tepals are 7.5-10 cm long, 9-12 (-15) mm, shorter than the external tepals, wide, lanceolate, gradually reduced to a pointed or acute apex, white in color; the stamens are 38-50 mm long, white, the anthers are 1.5 mm long, yellowish; the stylus is 15-20 cm in length, often longer than the internal tepals, maximum diameter of 1.5 mm, stigma lobes 7-12, about 7.5 mm long, thin.
The fruit, ovoid in shape, is 5-9 cm long, 4.5-7 cm thick, whitish in color, partly pink, pink, yellow or orange, covered with clusters of thorns and hairs that soon fall off; it’s juicy.

Cultivation –
The queen of the night is an easily cultivable, fast-growing epiphyte or lithophyte plant. To be cultivated it needs a soil containing a lot of humus and sufficient humidity in summer. It should not be kept below 5 ° C in the winter.
It grows well especially in full sun. The high brightness in early spring stimulates budding.
Flowering is in late spring or early summer, blooms only one night a year for several years and withers within hours.

Customs and Traditions –
Selenicereus grandiflorus was the first species to be brought into cultivation. Linnaeus described it in 1753, but it was known much earlier. Records of Hortus Kewensis indicate that the species was grown in the Hampton Court Royal Gardens prior to 1700. There were doubts as to which plant was available in Linné when he wrote his description, but the problem has been solved and both tables show authentic species.
As regards the active ingredients, recent analysis data is lacking. The presence of an alkaloid, cactin, has been reported and has not been found by other authors.
An action qualitatively comparable to that of the Digitalis is attributed to this plant although less active and from which it also differs in being devoid of cumulative action.
It has been recommended in the treatment of angina pectoris and has been recommended in heart disorders accompanying Graves’ disease.
It has been used with good results in aortic valve insufficiency and also in cardiac weakness resulting from infectious diseases, cardiac asthma and cardiac excitability, due to aneurysms, when digitalis is contraindicated.
Other authors have found it useful in cases of alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea abuse.
However, there is no shortage of AA. who deny this drug any therapeutic activity, including Gordon and Sharp who have tested it clinically and have not obtained noteworthy results and, more recently, other AAs have found some commercial preparations of the drug, which they have clinically tested, therapeutically inert.
All the observations concerning Selenicereus grandiflorus, both clinical and experimental, date back to a period between 1890 and 1911 and with the exception of some relatively more recent researches, carried out by Madaus.

Preparation Method –
For all the therapeutic applications of this plant, dried flowers are used, whole or cut into pieces.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline all responsibility for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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