Queen of the Night

This genus contains about 20 species of climbing or semi-pendent, epiphytic or lithophytic cacti, found in Texas, Mexico, C America, Columbia, and West Indies. Selenicereus grandiflorus is one of several species grown for its exquisite blooms, which open in the evening and close at dawn. It was introduced from the West Indies to Britain in 1700 as green house ornamental, though it s unappealing, spiny stems were often trained out of sight along the eaves. A rapturous description in The Illustrated Dictionary of Gardening (ed. George Nicholson, 1885) concluded that "there is hardly any flower of greater beauty". Selenicereus grandiflorus contains cactine, an alkaloid that has a tonic effect on the heart, comparable to Digitalis (See, Woolly Foxglove). It s cultivated in Florida and Mexico for the medicinal herb trade. Selenicereus is from the Greek selene, "moon" and Cereus, another genus of cacti.

Cereus is a long, spindly cactus that grows like a vine on hillsides. A tincture made from its sliced, fresh stems has been used to treat a host of conditions ranging from tinnitus to emphysema. It primarily affects the muscle fibers of the heart and arterioles, and herbalists use it most often to treat cardiac weakness, congestive heart failure, and the chest pain known as angina.

Perennial, climbing, epiphytic cactus with 5- to 8- ribbed stems, 1-2.5cm (½-1in) thick, clad in tufts of yellow to gray spines. Fragrant white flowers, to 30cm (12in) across, with yellow-brown out segments and numerous stamens, open overnight in summer, followed by fleshy, globose to ovoid, red fruits, to 8cm (3in) long.

Common Name:
Queen of the Night
Other Names:
Cereus, Night Blooming Cereus, Sweet-Scented Cactus
Botanical Name:
Selenicereus grandiflorus
Native Location:
Mexico and the West Indies
As an epiphytic climber, or in epiphytic soil mix, pH6 or lower, in sun or partial shade, with high humidity. Keep on the dry side in winter. Plants in greenhouses may be damaged by meadlybugs and scale insects.
By seed of stem cuttings sown in spring or summer at 16-19°C (61-66°F)
Young stems and flowers are cut in summer and dried for infusions, liquid extracts and tinctures.
3-5m (10-15ft)
Min. 10-15°C (50-59°F).
Parts Used:
Young stems, flowers.
A diuretic, sedative, tonic herb that stimulates the heart.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for palpitations, angina, edema, rheumatism, kidney congestion, and nervous headaches; in folk medicine for rheumatism and to expel intestinal parasites.
To treat angina pectoris, urinary ailments, menstrual problems, tinnitus, emphysema, and rheumatism; to stimulate the heart.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of cereus is approximately 0.6ml of a 1:1 fluid extract, taken one to ten times daily.
Possible Side Effects:
When cereus is taken as a fresh juice, its side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and burning of the mouth.
Drug Interactions:
Taking cereus with this drug may be harmful
Digitalis, (Digitek, Lanoxin)—May increase the effects of the drug.
Excess causes gastric irritation, confusion, and hallucinations. For use only by qualified practitioners.
Disease Interaction:
May worsen heart ailments or interfere with treatment.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pg 365
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grosberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. Pp 140-141