Visiting parts of the Eastern Cape’s Karoo Heartland during the summer months you may just spot these clumps of white flowers in the veld or along fences. On closer inspection, you’ll see that it’s a cactus that is flowering so beautifully. Curious to learn more?
The Golden Torch cactus (Echinopsis spachiana), sometimes also called Queen of the Night, blooms beautifully during the summer months. They normally flower at night and are still beautiful during the mornings. Not just do they look stunning, but they also smell fabulous.
The plant itself grows to a height of between 1.5m and 2m high. The white flowers are about 15 cm across and 18–20 cm long, part of which is an 8 cm long tube. The plants are covered in spines (some people may call them thorns). They occur in groupings of 8-10 spines with the central spine longer than the radials.
The Golden Torch is native to Argentina in South America and in this native habitat the flowers appear in June–July and open at night. Thus here in South Africa, they flower around late November through to March.
In South Africa the Golden Torch has been declared a Category 1 invasive alien plant which means that it may not be planted or propagated. Regardless, they are beautiful to see and awesome to photograph. Most of these photographs, bar the first one, were taken at Lowlands Country House near Cradock.