Darlene Whitethorn is enjoying a rare treat. Her Star of the East cactus has blossomed. Whitethorn said this particular cactus has blossomed only two or three times since she received it in the 1960s.
There's a special cactus in Darlene Whitethorn's house.
The first Star of the East cactus arrived in Madison in the pocket of Fr. Thomas Flynn, who was pastor at St. Thomas Church for 45 years. The cactus is native to the Holy Land.
As the cactus grows, starter buds appear which can be disconnected and replanted. According to a 1961 story in The Madison Daily Leader, Flynn passed along the first starter from his cactus to Emma Avery, who later passed it on to her daughter, Addie (Whitethorn's mother).
Whitethorn received a starter from that cactus in the 1960s and has since passed on starter buds to several members of her family, while starting a couple more of her own.
A blossom on this cactus is a rare occasion. Whitetorn said that she's seen a blossom only two or three times in the past 40 years.
The white and lavender blossom lasts about 24 hours. Small white petals in the center of the blossom create a star shape.