Moonflower – level 3

26-02-2021 15:00

A rare Amazonian cactus called Selinecereus, or the moonlight cactus, has bloomed for what botanists believe is the first time in the UK.

The plant is naturally found in Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America, and it has white flowers that only last a single night in most species. It is cultivated only in 13 botanic gardens in the world.

Experts at Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden kept a night watch throughout the week so that they didn’t miss the flowering of the moonlight cactus, an event that usually begins at sunset and it is over by sunrise. The ‘moonflower’ actually bloomed earlier on Saturday afternoon at around 3 pm, and the garden said that it was 28 centimeters long.

The strongly desired flower produces a sweet-smelling scent that turns rancid after just two hours as the plant begins to die.

Difficult words: botanist (a scientist who studies plants), cultivated (grown and looked after), rancid (smelling or tasting unpleasant as a result of being old).

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