Lesson From The Epiphyllum Oxypetalum

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“Tan Hua i sheng ” 曇花一現–this is a Chinese idiom, it signifies the blooming of the Epiphyllum oxypetalum flower, which only occurs for a quick few hours in the night once a year. This event is comparable to a fleeting moment, in which opportunity presents itself and the decision to act on that opportunity hastily is imperative. Many opportunities, just like the Epiphyllum oxypetalum flower, only last for a short while before disappearing and leaving you with a feeling of wonder of where you would be if you had taken that opportunity.

I was very fortunate to have the Epiphyllum oxypetalum in my yard.  Since I missed the blooming of the flower last year, I was thankful that there were six flower buds that appeared in the beginning of the August this year.  I decided that I would study its blooming process to find out the mystery and using this chance as a learning opportunityin the process.

Buds appeared and it pointed toward the ground . (as if proving the law of gravity!)

Then it curled up and the point of the flower bud turned away from the ground and facing the sky.   You could also feel the firmness of the flower stem and bud.  Imagine the energy that brought the bud against the gravity.IMG_3613
The flowering bud then expanded and started to open up from the tip of the bud, this is the sign of getting ready to bloom that evening.
Sure enough it started to open up around 11:30pm; getting wider and wider and lasted only 4 to 5 hours.
The Epiphyllum oxypetalum fully bloomed at midnight, and was beautiful!
The Japanese call it ” Beauty under the moon ” because Epiphyllum oxypetalum blooms at midnight with strong fragrance.

IMG_3648 It is also known as “Night Queen” here in the States。


After fully blooming, the petals slowly come back together. The flower began to close back up.
Eventually returning to its’ prior state.
There were a couple of things that amazed me when I watched the blooming and withering of Epiphyllum oxypetalum.  First, was seeing the flower stem turned toward the sky against the gravity.  Wow, I can not imagine the energy brought forth by the Epiphyllum oxypetalum to accomplish this task.  Just like a human being, it used all its might in order to reach the ultimate goal. Once it achieved the life purpose(blooming), the entire flower withdrew graciously unlike other flowers whose petals fall to the ground, one after another .

Second, was the character of Epiphyllum oxypetalum.  It seemed that these flowers bloom for only themselves and those who are willing to be awake to watch them in the middle of night. The opportunity to see the Epiphyllum oxypetalum bloom and smell it’s sweet fragrance is short-lived.

Let us pay heed to the lesson from Epiphyllum oxypetalum and not to miss any more opportunities coming to us.

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