Tohono Chul Park
Kathleen -  © Bobby Ronstadt

Kathleen - © Bobby Ronstadt

As many Park fans know, TCP has the largest private collection of Night Blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii) in the nation, boasting over 350 individual plants. Anyone who has been to the ubiquitous Bloom Night also knows that many of these plants have names, like old family friends. We are frequently asked how (and why) some of these plant pals get named. The reasons are many. Many are named for the people who found them, or donated them, or have had a large impact on the Park. Others are named for their personality, at least as much of that as they choose to reveal.

Take KATHLEEN for example. Russ Buhrow, Curator of Plants for almost 20 years, received a call from Kathleen Bowman, an older lady who lived in the Picture Rocks area. She lived on five acres that had several Night Blooming Cereus plants, but was moving to another location for health reasons. “I love those cactus, and I know somebody will buy this place and bulldoze it and they will all get killed. Will you give them a good home?”, she said. Russ said they’d always have a good home here and named his favorite bloomer from that donation after her.

Slim -  © Bobby Ronstadt

Slim - © Bobby Ronstadt

SLIM, an old cowboy with a drinking problem sports long narrow petals, often appearing a bit disheveled, having a narrow cluster of stamens. SLIM, however, has been on the wagon for the past few years, with larger, more tidy flowers.

For many years, TERRY McMahon watered, fertilized and planted the majority of the cereus plants that now grow in Tohono Chul. He had looked and looked for a plant to put his name on. Finally, on May 21, 1999 he found one. Well, not just one, the one. Terry found the only plant in the Park that has more than just a hint of color in the flower petals. TERRY is big and pink. Four years later he found another plant on bloom night (6/7/2003) west of the main parking lot, named for his wife CARRIE.


Dr. Stephen Buchmann, a Tohono Chul member and guest lecturer has been creating time lapse sequences of desert wildflowers for the past two years. This one was taken at the park on the night of July 11th during the "pre-bloom night" phase when some early-bloomers just couldn’t wait!  He was also at the park during official bloom night.

(NOTE: The cereus time lapse movie requires the free Apple QuickTime program, available here.)

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