Thursday 27 April 2017

Floral giant raises blooming stink

Staff brave the stench of the Titan Arum, one of the world's biggest and smelliest flowers, which has finally blossomed at Paignton Zoo - treating visitors to the stench of rotting meat. (Paignton Zoo/PA)
Staff brave the stench of the Titan Arum, one of the world's biggest and smelliest flowers, which has finally blossomed at Paignton Zoo - treating visitors to the stench of rotting meat. (Paignton Zoo/PA)
The Titan Arum can go years between flowerings

One of the world's biggest and smelliest flowers has finally blossomed at a zoo - treating visitors to the stench of rotting meat.

The Titan Arum was planted at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon in 2003 and has been cared for by gardeners ever since.

It blossomed for the first time last night, displaying a bloom that measures almost three metres (10ft) wide and three metres high.

The flower, which is green on the outside and bright red inside with ribbed sides and a frilled edge, is only expected to last for a day.

Giles Palmer, curator of plants and gardens at Paignton Zoo, said: "Imagine you have the smell of rotting meat in a tin can and you open that can on the hottest, most humid day of the year.

"There are probably only 100 collections in the world where you can see this plant and it can go years between flowerings, so it's not a common sight.

"Sadly, they are becoming rare in the wild as people collect the seeds for profit - habitat destruction is also a major problem."

The plant comes from the rainforests of Sumatra and is a member of the Arum family and is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants.

It has one of the largest flowers in the world and is known as a carrion flower, or corpse flower thanks to its odour of rotting meat.

The plant emits the strong smell at night to attract pollinators.

In August 2012, Paignton Zoo was the first zoo in the UK to see a Titan Arum flower.

There are five Titans currently growing at the zoo, with the oldest aged 13. It can take more than 10 years before a flower is produced as the tuber must weigh at least 15kg.

Last November the flower which has just blossomed was weighed and tipped the scales at 44kg.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh also has a Titan on the verge of flowering.

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