Blooming cactus!

In the arid greenhouse this morning there are three flowers on our Peruvian apple cactus (Cereus peruvianus). These flowers open at night to be pollinated by bats. These are the most open I’ve seen the flowers, because I happened to arrive at the greenhouse early this morning. The photos were taken around 8:00 am, and I expect the flowers will fade quickly this morning. The energy investment into such large flowers is considerable, which makes it all the more striking that they should open for only one night. A rare reward for night-owls (or bats?) and early-risers alike!

Blue water lily

After an unfortunate hiatus, the greenhouse blog has returned with fantastic news! A plant that quite accidentally hitchhiked from the University of Connecticut has not only established itself in our aquatic tank, but just today it opened its first flower! The species, Nymphaea caerulea, is native to Africa but cultivated widely. If you plan to visit the greenhouse, please also check out Clerodendrum nutans, the bridal veil, also generously donated (this time on purpose!) from the University of Connecticut. Another steady bloomer you might notice is Browallia speciosa, a gift from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Please check out the greenhouse plants while they bloom!


This week we are treated to the first flowers on our largest coffee plant (Coffea arabica, Rubiaceae). If all goes well, soon they will develop into berries, green at first then becoming a dark red and containing precious coffee ‘beans’ (botanically we would call them seeds). Stay tuned for updates on our healthy coffee plant!


As the days get longer and the light gets better, plants in the greenhouse are just about ready to embrace spring! One of the plants that has started blooming is a Phalaenopsis orchid, one of the most commonly sold orchids. The flowers are sturdy and should last a long time, and maybe we will be greeted with additional flowers from the same plant. As of today, two flowers have opened!

Blooming monocots

Here are some photos of a couple more of our plants in flower. They are just about done flowering but still looking nice. One (Billbergia nutans) is a relative of the pineapple, although with a very different flower arrangement. The other (Aloe vera) should sound familiar, although the plant pictured might be a bit larger than you’d expect!

In bloom!

Nothing beats the winter chill like a warm greenhouse full of flowering plants. We are fortunate to have a few plants in bloom right now, including Citrus × meyeri ‘Improved’ (the Improved Meyer Lemon). Citrus flowers have a delightful aroma, and with luck the plant will develop some fruits down the road.

Another plant that has just begun blooming (and is full of unopened buds!) is Ardisia solanacea (Myrsinaceae), a native of India. This plant gets its name from the similarity of its flowers to those of the tomato genus, Solanum.



Welcome to the official unofficial website for the UW-W Biology Greenhouse. The greenhouse facility is located on the ground floor of Upham Hall at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. It serves the needs of the Biological Sciences department for teaching and research space, course material, and a teaching collection for plant diversity. Dr. Nicholas Tippery manages the greenhouse with the help of other faculty and several exceptional students. We continue to expand as we acquire plants through purchases and from generous donors, and our ultimate goal is to have a teaching collection that can be used broadly across courses in biology and other subjects. Stay tuned to this website for updates on our expansion initiative and for interesting tidbits about the plants in our collection!

Ferocactus wislizeni (foreground), blooming in August 2011.