A watercolor depicting a species of Selenicereus, sometimes referred as Moonlight Cactus. Selenicereus comes from the greek word for ‘moon cereus’ and refers to the fact that the plants flower at night. Its flowers are mostly white and fragrant, producing spiny fruit. Selenicereus boeckmannii is native to the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, and Dominican Republic.

The illustration is by award-winning botanical illustrator Mary Emily Eaton (1873-1961). Born in England and formally trained in art, Eaton began illustrating natural subjects while visiting family in Jamaica. She moved to New York in 1911 where she became the principal illustrator for The New York Botanical Garden, producing hundreds of plates. The illustration shown here comes from her illustration work for The Cactaceae by Britton & Rose, a seminal work on cactus taxonomy that is still considered an important scientific work today. Hundreds of Eaton’s works are part of the permanent collections of the The New York Botanical Garden, the National Geographic Society, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Plate Number: 1795
Publication: The Cactaceae Vol. 2 Pl. 36, Fig. 2 and 3 Client: Britton, N.L. and Rose, J.N. - Size: 11x14
Selenicereus boeckmannii (Cactaceae) - Collection: J.A. Shafer, Cuba, Cayo Guayaba; flowering branch and fruit.
Artist: Eaton, Mary Emily - 14 May 1913 - watercolor


  • Title: Selenicereus boeckmannii, a species of Moonlight Cactus
  • Creator: Mary Emily Eaton
  • Date Created: 1913-05-14
  • Physical Dimensions: 28 cm x 36 cm
  • Type: Illustration
  • Rights: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws. http://www.si.edu/termsofuse
  • External Link: View this object record in the Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center
  • Medium: Watercolor
  • Scientific Name: <i>Selenicereus boeckmannii</i>
  • Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
  • Field: Botany

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps