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Epiphyllum oxypetalum


Epiphyllum oxypetalum (DC.) Haw.

Family Name: Cactaceae
Synonyms: Epiphyllum grande, Epiphyllum acuminatum
Common Name: Lady of the Night, Queen of the Night, Night blooming Cereus, Dutchman's-Pipe Cactus, Keng Hwa, 昙花, 琼花


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Growth Form Shrub
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Maximum Height 0.8 m to 1.4 m


Native Distribution Mexico to Brazil
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Temperate Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Epiphytic cactus that grows up to 6 m tall in the wild.
Foliage This species does not produce leaves. Instead, they produce modified stems that look like leaves and serve similar functions.
Stems Flattened stems are composed of a thick, round midrib surrounded by fleshy wings that have a scalloped edge.
Flowers Fragrant, star-shaped flowers (28 cm long, 13 cm wide) are composed of 25-30 white, linear petals. Flowers begin to open at 8-10PM, reach their maximum fullness at 12-3AM, and close before dawn. Flowering occurs infrequently, about 25 days after a significant drop in temperature. Flower buds are produced at the end of modified stems that look like leaves. They swell slightly several hours before blooming later at night.
Habitat Found growing high in the canopy in rainforests and temperate forests.
Cultivation Although it is a cactus, it prefers moist, but well-drained soil. The soil should not be allowed to dry out before re-watering.
Etymology The genus 'Epiphyllum' means 'upon the leaf' which refers to their epiphytic nature and growth within the forest canopy. The specific epithet 'oxypetalum' refers to the pointed petal tips.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Flowers
Medicinal: In Taiwan, the flowers are harvested at night and dried the next day. The flowers are boiled in soup and thought to be good for the skin. It is said that the plant can be used to treat pulmonary tuberculosis with cough, hemoptysis, uterine bleeding, and pharyngitis.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Flowers) (Night), Ornamental Flowers
Landscape Uses Trellis / Arbour / Pergola, Interiorscape/ Indoor Plant
Thematic Landscaping Moonlight Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Moth Food Plant (Flower Nectar)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Butterfly, Moth))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Rootzone Tolerance Well-Drained Soils
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Stem Cutting, Division, Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green - Light Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Powdery / Waxy Bloom, Leathery
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Remarks Lighter green with glossy texture

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, White
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Radial
Flowering Opening Time Night (dusk to dawn)
Flower Lifespan on Plant 1 Night
Flowering Habit Polycarpic



Polunin, Ivan. 2010. Plants and Flowers of Singapore. Malaysia: Marshall Cavendish Editions .

Image Repository



Master ID 693
Species ID 1988
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 27 December 2023.