Friday, September 23, 2011

Night-blooming Cereus Blooming in Paia

Yesterday morning driving through Paia from Haiku, I noticed the night-blooming cereus was in bloom! There is a hedge of it that grows on the outskirts of Paia, on the mauka side of the road (Hawaiian for “mountainside”).  In other words, it was growing on the same side as the Paia Community Center and the Hawaiian Protestant church.  There is one long hedge that extends for about a block, and then a second, much smaller patch right by the Hawaiian church.

Legend has it that the night-blooming cereus only blooms once a year, but it blooms at least two or three times a year. Perhaps more. But only for one or two days.  The flowers are beautiful, extravagant in size, and in their queenly fashion, do not like the light of day.  They are also fragrant.  I happened to see them at 10:00 am and that was a real treat since to see them, you really have to be there at the right time.  I have seen them in their wilted state, as if are having a hangover from partying too much the night before. An artist friend of mine loves this flower so much that she makes jewelry inspired by it, and she also tries to keep tabs on their blossoming time.

The night-blooming cereus is a cactus that is not as common as coconuts or banana trees, but does grow widely through Hawaii. There is another section of night-blooming cereus on Haiku Road, coming up from Hana Highway, but the plant is growing high up in the pine trees. I have often speculated whether the Haiku cereus blooms at the same time as the Paia cereus, but have not been able to confirm this. There is also a famous hedge of night-blooming cereus encircling the Punahou School campus in Honolulu. According to local lore, all the night-blooming cereus in Hawaii came from this one hedge.  

If you are lucky, there may still be some straggler blooms to see in person. If so, traffic is pretty thick on Hana Highway, so be careful.  The most accessible flowers are the ones by the Paia Hawaiian Protestant Church, since they grow right by the sidewalk.

Also a time-lapse video on night-blooming cereus:

Here are some other posts about night blooming cereus on Maui:
Night blooming cereus up high on Haiku Road
Night blooming cereus along the ocean, above Maliko Gulch


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