Hold your nose and enjoy UK’s ‘corpse flowers’

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: May 03, 2016 17:03 IST
The three Eden Project titan arums side-by-side in the Rainforest Biome. (HT Photo)

Two of the world’s biggest, smelliest flowers have burst forth at the Eden Project, a unique multiple greenhouse complex in southwest England, causing a sensation among visitors.

This is the first time Eden has ever had two titan arums, known as “corpse flowers”, blooming at the same time in the complex in Cornwall.

Eden narrators Shannon Mcgall (crouching) and Lewis Lowe measure the titan arum. (HT Photo)

They are situated in an “avenue of stench” in the Rainforest Biome, flanking a third flower which is set to bloom any time now.

The titan arums have the proper name Amorphophallus titanum but are also known as “corpse flowers” because their horrendous odour, aimed at attracting pollinators, is similar to that of decaying flesh.

Project officials said having three in their flowering stage is considered a unique botanical event at Eden. The credit is given to the dedication of horticulturist Tim Grigg, 36, who has nurtured the titans for half his life, hand pollinating the individual flowers.

Crowds gather around Eden’s titan arums. (HT Photo)

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.”

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. Last year Eden had three titans side by side but only two went into flower stage.

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