Autor: (Berger) Britton & Rose
“Night Cereus” because the genus has nocturnal flowers.
A genus of bushy plants forming clumps of soft, erect cylindrical stems, climbing or pendulous, up to 6 m or more long, branching from the base, with tuberous roots. 10-13 ribs rounded, very small areoles, close-set, spines short and finely aciculate.
Flowers nocturnal, large (15-20 cm long), self-sterile, funnel-shaped, white with outer segments of the perianth pinkish brown, opening widely, fragrant, pollinated by bats. Fruits large (6 cm long), globose to egg-shaped, red, edible, covered with spines falling when ripe. Very large seeds (ca. 4.5×3.5 mm) shiny, black, dotted with tiny holes.
The monotypic genus Nyctocereus grows endemically on very organic or rocky soils often of volcanic origin, and although it has a wide area of distribution along the east coast of Mexico, it is found very sporadically and always in very localized areas, in deciduous tropical forests, from 800 m up to 2500 m in altitude, generally in the shade.
Mexico (D. F., Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Michoacan, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Sinaloa, Sonora, Zacatecas).
Currently only one recognised species:
– Nyctocereus serpentinus* (Lag. & Rodr.) Britton & Rose 1909