Thursday, June 27, 2013

June Nights

This year around Midsummer the largest, most beautiful moon graced our clear desert sky. Randy and I hiked up Sabino Canyon, the mountains on both sides of the road actually benefitting us with the impression of several spectacular moon rises during one evening.

By 10 pm the moon had cleared the mountains and, hanging close to the zenith, was bright enough to read the small symbols on my camera's dial.

Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii)

Last night more magic happened. Our first, and this year only, Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii) flower opened. Delicate and fragrant it survived into the early morning hours, so I could capture the first rays of sunshine just reaching it. As beautiful as this seems, there is a scary reason for this longevity: right now pollinators are virtually absent. It has been nearly a month that I saw the last Manduca or Whitelined Sphings, and even local feral bees that often do early morning duty have completely disappeared.

So unpollinated and still hopeful, the Virgin Queen lasts into the late morning hours, until the merciless heat of another 108 degree day will brake her spirit and she will die unfulfilled.

There is still hope, though. While in other years all Peniocereus plants in the area seemed synchronized to bloom during the same single night, this year there are still buds that are only about an inch long and will not open before this incredible heat spell ends, the rains begin, and the insects eager to break their estivation pause will awake ... and life will go on. Or so we hope


  1. I hope the pollinators arrive soon.

  2. The Queen of the Night is spectacular. I feel very privileged to have seen it - thank you!

  3. Great post . . . and great photography. And yes, bees are having problems.

  4. Your photographs are marvelous. I can almost feel the night desert ....

    Maybe someday I'll see one of those beautiful flowers.

  5. I think the top photo is my favorite (hard to choose, though!).