Scientific Name: cestrum nocturnum
Other Names: dama de noche, queen of the night, night-blooming jessamine, night blooming jasmine
The Lady of the Night is not just the name of a movie or two, it is also the name of an evergreen shrub that produces small white greenish flowers. The shrub has broad, glossy leaves can grow to 13 feet tall. The night blooming jasmine is native to the West Indies and South Asia.
While at first glance there doesn’t seem to be anything special about these flowers, just one sniff will change your mind. The lady of the night is known for its deliciously intense fragrance that it emits at night to attract pollinators. The fragrance is so powerful it can be smelled 60 feet away. Even though the scent is strongest at night, it will linger during the day. For some people, the scent can be overwhelming.
The sweet scent makes it a popular ornamental plant. It’s a plant that’s easy to grow and maintain. The lady of the night does best in full light in moist and sandy soils. In the garden, it is used as a background, border or divider plant. It can also be grown in containers.
Although the tropical plant is food for some caterpillars, all parts of the plant is known to be toxic to humans.
Climate zones: 8-11
The Legend of Dama de Noche (Lady of the Night)
In the Phillipines, this plant is known as dama de noche. And here is one story of how the plant got its name.
Once upon a time there lived a nobleman who loved being single. He loved going to elaborate parties, getting drunk and spending each night with a different woman. He drank the finest wines and ate the most delicious meals in the company of beautiful women of the noble class. Life was good.
But eventually he grew bored of this lifestyle. He was ready to settle down and get married. He knew he didn’t want to marry a woman from the noble class. He was tired of all the glitz and glamour.
As luck would have it, he met a simple, yet charming woman named Dama. They got married. They lived a happy, yet simple life.
Then day by day, the nobleman grew bored with her. He decided that she wasn’t good enough for him any more. She wasn’t as beautiful, smart or classy as the other ladies he has been with. He was bored and missed the noble life.
And so he went back all the partying and glamorous noble women.
Dama was upset. She loved her husband and didn’t want to lose him. She spent her nights crying and praying. She prayed that she would be a given a magic charm so that her husband would never leave her.
One night, her husband came home at midnight and Dama wasn’t there. He searched high and low, but she was nowhere to be found. When he reached their bedroom, he was enchanted by a sweet and intoxicating scent coming from the windows. Going outside, he saw that the scent was coming from a strange bush with white star-like flowers.
Enticed by the scent of the flowers, he sat there waiting for Dama to come home. She never returned. “Dama,” he whispered into the darkness. He didn’t know if the plant was really her, but he didn’t want to leave her side…