Monday, July 26, 2021

Partying in Chariton with the queen of the night

Several varieties of night-blooming cacti can claim the name night blooming cereus, but only one --- Selenicereus Grandiflorus (aka Queen of the Night) --- blooms just once a year, overnight, then closes at dawn and fades away.

This rare occurrence was the cause of a gathering of family and friends at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Harris Van Nice on the evening of July 23, 1891, as reported in The Chariton Herald of July 30:


A "Night Blooming Cereus" was the center of attraction at the home of W. H. Van Nice on last Thursday night, where a number of neighbors and friends had gathered to watch the unfolding of its beauty and inhale its fragrance upon the only night in the year when these pleasures were to be enjoyed. The flower began to open soon after sunset, reaching full bloom at about 9 o'clock, remaining in bloom all night. It began to close soon after sunrise and at about 8 o'clock it had entirely closed. Cashier Culbertson of the Savings Bank took the plant to the bank Friday morning where it was on exhibition during the day.


I decided to do a little further research and see if other reports of similar gatherings might have been published in Chariton newspapers over the years --- and was not disappointed.

On Sept. 14, 1930, a plant owned by Mira McFarland, then living with her daughter and son-in-law, Maude Mary and Albert B. Gookin, burst into bloom and was the centerpiece of a similar gathering at the Gookin home.

Fifteen years later, Loyd and Cora Paschall invited friends and neighbors in when their plant burst into bloom on the evening of Sept. 17, 1945. Three years later, on July 3, 1948, the Paschall plant bloomed again and was the centerpiece of a similar gathering.

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