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caption: Jessica Rubenacker and the night-blooming cereus.
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Jessica Rubenacker and the night-blooming cereus.
Credit: Shin Yu Pai

A rare cactus takes root

Jessica Rubenacker collects plants. Lots of plants.

In this episode, we learn about how Jessica’s passion for plant collecting developed. Currently, there are more than 365 specimens in her collection; her plant babies even have their own Instagram account. The night-blooming cereus, aka tan hua, which is also known by its more poetic moniker - the queen of the night - entered Jessica’s life as a gift.

The nocturnal cactus smells like gardenia and only blooms for a single night before fading. A tale of rooting and uprooting, Jessica also speaks about her Filipina immigrant grandmother and visiting the motherland to seek out the family's ancestral roots.

caption: Growing room.
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Growing room.
Credit: Shin Yu Pai


Related links:

Jessica’s plants on Instagram

Video of the Night-blooming Cereus

The Blue Suit is produced by KUOW in Seattle. Our host, writer, and creator is Shin Yu Pai. Whitney Henry-Lester produced this episode. Jim Gates is our editor. Tomo Nakayama wrote our theme music. Additional music in this episode by Stan Forebee and 12 Palms.