Wednesday 28 September 2016

Blooming flowers create 'double the pong' in Eden Project's 'avenue of stench'

Published 03/05/2016 | 22:48

One of the two titan arums that have bloomed at the Eden Project near St Austell, Cornwall (PA/Eden Project)
One of the two titan arums that have bloomed at the Eden Project near St Austell, Cornwall (PA/Eden Project)

Two of the world's biggest, smelliest flowers have burst forth - causing a sensation among visitors to the Eden Project.

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It is the first time two of the titan arums have bloomed at the same time at the tourist attraction near St Austell, Cornwall.

They are situated in an "avenue of stench" in Eden's Rainforest Biome, flanking a third flower which is set to bloom any time now.

The larger of the two blooming flowers opened on Tuesday afternoon, following the smaller one which had started opening on Monday night and began to wilt prematurely on Tuesday morning.

The titan arums have the proper name of Amorphophallus titanum but are also known as corpse flowers because the horrendous odour they give off to attract pollinators is similar to that of decaying flesh.

Last year Eden had three titans side by side but only two went into flower - the other was at a fruiting stage so was not stinky.

Having three in their flowering stage amounts to a unique botanical event at Eden and it is all down to the dedication of one man - horticulturist "Tropical" Tim Grigg.

Mr Grigg, 36, has nurtured the titans for half his life, hand pollinating the individual flowers, and considers them almost like family.

He became fascinated by the plants when he first started working at Eden's nursery at the age of 18 and a batch of rare seedlings came in from Bonn Botanic Garden in Germany.

He said: "I'm really proud that we have two of these spectacular plants blooming at the same time, an incredibly rare occurrence since titan arums only flower for up to 48 hours at a time.

"This is a unique opportunity for Eden visitors to experience these flowers up close and get double the pong from our 'avenue of stench'."

Pollinated by beetles and flies, the titan arum is a rare and striking horticultural marvel that usually lives for between seven and 10 years before flowering for as little as 48 hours and then dying.

The plant originates from the rainforest in western Sumatra, Indonesia, and grows on steep hillsides.

It is rare in the wild and even scarcer in cultivation but Mr Grigg has had an astounding success rate at Eden.

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