Ajuntament de Barcelona

Cestrum nocturnum

Miramar Garden and Camí dels Cims

    Catalan name: 
    Llessamí de nit
    Spanish name: 
    Dama de noche
    English name: 
    Lady of the night
    Species characteristics
    Family: 
    Solanaceae
    Origin: 
    Antilles
    Habitat: 
    Well-drained soils in subtropical areas
    Characteristics: 

    Perennial woody shrub 2-3 m tall. The young stems are slightly hairy.

    The leaves are simple and alternate leaves. Their shape varies from oval to lanceolate (6-15 cm long and 2-4,5 cm wide), with cuneiform or rounded base and acute apex. They are light green and on the lower side the central nerve is slightly pubescent. The flowers, very fragant during the night, have yellowish or greenish white corolla, 1.5-2 cm long, and bell-shaped or dome-shaped calyx, 2-3 mm long. They appear into short hanging axillary or terminal bunches (7-10 cm long) consisting of many flowers.

    The fruits are white globose berries globose, 7-10 mm in diameter, which contain prism-shaped seeds, 3-6 mm long. They are very poisonous.

    Flowering time: 
    Late spring-summer
    Fruiting time: 
    September-January
    Uses and properties: 

    The nightly odor of its flowers make this plant a very popular one in gardening.

    It does not tollerate cold weather nor freeze conditions.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Cestrum nocturnum, consists of the genus name Cestrum, from the Greek κεστρον, nom d’una planta, or κεστρος, “small burin”, with reference to the leaves shape, and the Latin term nocturnum, “nocturnal”, in allusion to the night habits of the flowers.

    In 1943 the Chinese-Japanese actress and singer Lǐ Xīanglán (also known as Yoshiko Ōtaka in Japan and as Shirley Yamaguchi in the United States) performed for the first time the song Yè lái xiāng (The lady of the night), which became very popular among the Chinese audience and has been adapted by many singers.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001