A plant that is often passed along from friend to friend, parent to child. Of unknown origin, but it is widely grown and naturalized in the tropical Americas. Deep green, three-ribbed, 2-in.-wide stems with short, dark spines grow quickly to 15 ft. (possibly to 30 ft.), attaching themselves to a tree trunk, wall, or house by means of strong aerial roots. Without a support, the stems create a large, freestanding mound with a beautiful snaking pattern. Grown primarily for its waxy, fragrant, nocturnal white flowers, which are up to 1 ft. long. Individual flowers last just one night, but plant may bloom all summer. May also produce showy, 4-in.-long red fruit, which is edible and even deliciously sweet. Tolerates salt spray.
Easy to grow outdoors in well-drained soil in Tropical South. Elsewhere, grow in container and bring indoors in winter; keep humidity high and night temperature above 55F. Fertilize monthly in spring and summer with balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Can survive drought but does best if watered regularly until flowering starts, then sparingly through the summer to encourage flowering.