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 Selenicereus subsp. var.  Moonlight cactus, Moon cactus, Queen of the night
Selenicereus spinulosus1HIBT.jpg
Habit: cacti-succulent
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
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USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Cactaceae > Selenicereus var. ,

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Moonlight cacti or (genus Selenicereus) is a poorly defined cactus genus found in Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America.

Clambering plants with flat to angled stems, producing aerial roots. Areoles may be with or without spines. Flowers are large and nocturnal, pollinated by moths or rarely bats. The receptacle bears small bracts, hairs and usually spines. Fruits bear numerous spines.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Selenicereus (moon goddess and cereus). Cactaceae. Cacti with slender trailing hanging or climbing sts., more or less epiphytic: ribs several, usually low, with closely set areoles bearing small short or acicular spines: fls. large, nocturnal, fragrant; ovary and fr. covered with clusters of small spines often accompanied by long hairs.—More than 20 species are known. This genus contains a number of easily grown species which are great favorities in cult. on account of the great size and beauty of the fls. Some of the species are reported to possess medicinal properties. These plants have been referred to Cereus.

Cereus inermis, Otto. Sts. slender, climbing, 4-5-angled, deep green: areoles small, naked except on juvenile shoots and then bearing several white bristles: fls. said to be large, probably nocturnal, but not often appearing on cult. plants. This is a rather insignificant plant. Intro. from Venezuela many years ago. This is not a true Cereus, and without seeing fls. or fr. its real status can not be definitely stated. Karl Schumann, however, associated it with this group, and if of this alliance, it should be placed near S. hamatus. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


Selenicereus urbanianus in Hatillo Palma, Dominical Republic.
Selenicereus wercklei

Mexico. Stems like those of Epiphyllum anguliger but more vining and with short spines. Flowers ca. 12 cm long, 10–15 cm wide, the outer inner tepals purplish, the inner cream.

  • Selenicereus atropilosus

Mexico. Flowers 12 cm long, receptacle with black hairs. The species is close to some species in the genus Weberocereus

  • Selenicereus chrysocardium

Mexico. Stems deeply lobed, ca. 28 cm wide. Flowers 32–38 cm long, 23–30 cm wide, base of receptacle very spiny. The species is close to the genus Epiphyllum.

Jamaica, Cuba; Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua. Stems many-ribbed. Flowers 18 cm long, receptacle densely woolly. Three subspecies are recognized:
ssp. grandiflorus
ssp. donkelaarii - Mexico. Stems 1 cm thick, low-ribbed, spines short, appressed to stem. Flowers 18 cm long.
ssp. hondurensis- Honduras? Stem ribs tubercled. Flowers 30–34 cm long.

The following species are very closely related to each other and possibly better treated as synonymous taxa or subspecies:

  • Selenicereus boeckmannii

Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico. Flowers 24–39 cm long. Close to S. pteranthus.

  • Selenicereus brevispinus

Cuba. Spines less and 1 mm long. Flowers 25 cm long. A shortspined S. grandiflorus.

  • Selenicereus coniflorus

Mexico. Stems thick, usually with 5-6 ribs, spines to 1,5 cm long. Flowers 22–25 cm long. A long spined S. pteranthus or few ribbed S. grandiflorus.

  • Selenicereus hallensis

Colombia? Only known in cultivation and possibly a hybrid with S. macdonaldiae and some other "species".

  • S. urbanianus

Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic. Stems 4-5-ribbed, flowers 20–30 cm long.

  • Selenicereus hamatus - Mexico. Stems 3-4-ribbed, with knobby projections, nearly spineless. Flowers 20–25 cm long, receptacle with black hairs.
  • Selenicereus inermis - Venezuela, Colombia. Stems 2-5-ribbed, almost spineless. Flower 15 cm long, spiny, hairless. The following species are probably best treated as synonymous or subspecies of S. inermis:
  • Selenicereus rubineus - Mexico. Stems 4-5-ribbed. Flowers 18 cm. wide, 18–19 cm long, inner and outer inner tepals flushed ruby-red near base.
  • Selenicereus wercklei - Costa Rica. Stem with 6-12 low ribs. Flower 15–16 cm long, spiny, hairless.
  • Selenicereus murrillii

Mexico. Stems only 8 mm thick, nearly spineless. Flowers 15 cm long, spiny, hairless. Closely related to S. spinulous and S. inermis (sensu lat.).

Two forms are recognized.

    • f. macdonaldiae - Honduras? Stem ribs tubercled. Flowers 30–34 cm long.
    • f. pteranthus - Mexico. Stems thick, 4-5-ribbed, spines very short. Flowers 25–30 cm long.
  • Selenicereus spinulosus - Texas, Mexico. Stems short-spined. Flowers 8–14 cm long, receptacle spiny, hairless.
  • Selenicereus vagans. Mexico. Flower 15 cm long, receptacle spiny, hairless.
  • Selenicereus nelsonii. Mexico. Flowers 20 cm long, receptacle hairless, spiny. Probably conspecific with S. vagans.
  • Selenicereus validus - Michoacan, huge nocturnal flowers with bright red fruits. (Mesa Gardens 1244.5936)



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