Moonflower time lapse at Cambridge University goes viral

The Glasshouse in Cambridge University Botanic Garden hosts many of the world’s rarest plants. Sitting on 40 acres of land, the Glasshouse supports a wide variety of university research including plant evolution, ornithology, crop security, and conservation. Many of the world’s red list (threatened) plants, have a home at the Glasshouse, including the Amazonian Moonflower.

During special blooming events, the Glasshouse usually opens its doors to the general public however due to pandemic restrictions this year that wasn’t possible. In order to share this monumental blooming, the team set up a livestream and a Brinno TLC200Pro camera to capture a time lapse video of the opening moonflower. Their goal was to share this unique flower with the local community, they never expect that this bloom would turn into a worldwide countdown followed by hundreds of thousands viewers from every cornerof the world.

The Moonflower, Selenicereus wittii, is extremely rare outside of the Amazonian rainforest and only 13 botanical gardens around the world have it among their collection. It is a cactus that only blooms once a year, for one night, between sunset and sunrise. The flower starts off smelling sweet but quickly turns rancid as the flower begins to die.

Margaret Mee, the world renowned botanical artist brought this beautiful flower to the world’s attention with her drawings in 1988. There is even a 2013 documentary about her work and discoveries called Margaret Mee and the Moonflower.

After the bloom was completed, news agencies around the world including Global News in Canada and Latestly in India picked up the story and used the Brinno time lapse footage to showcase the flower.

This was an event full of firsts. It was the first time a moonflower has bloomed in the UK and the first time that a Moonflower bloom has been recorded using time lapse. The footage filmed using a TLC200Pro time lapse camera provides a fantastic bite-sized view of the flower growing and opening in a three minute video.

Moving forward the Glass House would like to create a regular time lapse feature using their newly sponsored TLC2020 camera to showcase the diverse collection of plants at the Glass House. Stay tuned for more fun features and special blooms!

To learn more about the Glass House and their diverse activities at the University of Cambridge check out their website. The wonderful team at the Glass House also put together a fact file on the Moonflower and did a video Q&A so you can learn more about this fascinating plant.