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May 2017 Plant of the Month - Echinopsis oxygona

Echinopsis oxygonaEchinopsis oxygona, commonly known as the Easter lily cactus, is a large family of cactus that originates from the hills of South America.  Echinopsis is known for the large, colorful flowers that appear on the spinney cactus around Easter time.  The sweet-smelling flower opens in the evening and wilts by the next day when the weather is hot.  Nectar-production occurs at night, and the flowers, which often reach a size of 8” in diameter and range in colors of white, pink, yellow, red, and orange, are pollinated by moths and bats.  

SFO currently has some stunning examples of the plant in full bloom at Firehouse 1 at 650 West Field Road.  The flowers are white to light pink and about 6” in diameter.  They will continue to bloom for the next few weeks as long as the daytime temperature is warm.

Fun Fact: “Echin” comes from the Greek word “Ekihnos,” which meant both sea urchin and hedgehog.  The “opsis” at the end of Echinopsis is another Greek word, one which means “resembling” or “appearance.”