The ethereal, star-like blossoms of the night-blooming cereus are known for their tendency to bloom all at once.
Plant enthusiasts frequently gather to celebrate its unfolding, and such gatherings are not uncommon.
“Informal gatherings to witness the annual affair were commonplace in small-town America before World War II,” writes the Washington Post.
When the cereus buds began to swell and the bloom was approaching, “neighbours and strangers alike arrived for the show,” according to local newspapers.
According to Tohono Chul, about 1,500 people visited the garden on Friday night to witness the Cereus greggii flower grow from a small bud to a palm-sized flower right in front of their eyes.
“Those who watch the unfolding of the petals often hope to detect an evidence of motion,” according to a 1934 article in the New York Times, “but the development is so smoothly uniform that the little bud suddenly appears more widely open than the second before, without a perceptible movement.”
The flowers wilt just a few hours after emitting their famously hypnotic scent.
According to the Tohono Chul website, “researchers are still unsure how the flowers know when to bloom en masse,” but they believe it is due to chemical communication.
According to the garden’s website, the flowers may bloom on the same evening to aid pollination.
The seed of the night-blooming cereus is usually spread by hawkmoths, and logically, “the more blooms that are open, the greater the chances of pollination.”