World's largest flower creates titanic stench at the Eden Project

World's largest flower creates titanic stench at the Eden ProjectA giant flower that smells like rotting flesh has bloomed spectacularly at Cornwall’s Eden Project today (June 6), reaching a height of 2.57m (8ft 5in).

Titan arums (Latin name Amorphophallus titanum) are the world’s largest flowers. Eden’s Titan is currently on display in Rainforest Biome, the biggest greenhouse in the world.

They typically grow for between seven and 10 years after which they are in full splendour for only 48 hours before starting to collapse. They give off a distinctive smell often compared to rotting flesh to attract pollinators during this short time. Some specimens have been known to reach 3m (just under 10ft) in height when they flower.

The Titan was grown by Eden’s resident expert “Tropical” Tim Grigg and is a relation of the project’s original bloom, which flowered in 2005. He has nicknamed this plant “007” because it is seven years old and the seventh specimen to flower at Eden.

Tim said: “There really is no other flower remotely like it in size and sheer beauty. They are becoming more common in cultivation but are rare in the wild. I wanted to raise awareness that the Titan Arum is endangered.”

Tim has managed to successfully pollinate two of his Titans with a paintbrush on a stick, a feat rarely accomplished. Each of them fruited, producing more than 300 seeds.

The plant hails from Sumatra and is a distant relative of the ‘lords and ladies’, a British lily. It is distinguished by its yellowy, fleshy spike known as a spadix. This is wrapped in a single cream leaf which, when opened, reveals a rich crimson inside.

When the plant is ready to attract pollinators, the spike heats up and gives off the smell which disgusts humans but is very attractive to insects. It then develops the fruit which attracts birds.

The Titan is flowering in time for Eden’s Freaky Nature events, happening all over the site until Sunday (June 10).

Freaky Nature is Eden’s exploration into the superb survival tactics of plants. featuring a variety of activities, exhibits and workshops that investigate the hidden world of plants.

People can throw themselves into the fascinating world of seed dispersal and copy a burdock seed by dressing up in a sticky outfit and hurling themselves at a fuzzy wall.

Younger participants have a chance to tackle the Survival Game and discover the freaky ways that plants defend themselves, feed and reproduce.

There’ll also be a chance to get up close and personal with plants and bugs using Eden’s powerful microscopes, while little ones can join the fun by dressing as their favourite creepy crawlies at the Bug Boutique.

Eden will be exploring the dark side of plants too, including how and why some species have adapted to become sharp, toxic and even flesh-eating all in the name of survival.

Eden will be opening until 9pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during half term, where there will be a freaky menu on offer in the Eden Bakery and songs and storytelling in the Mediterranean Biome.

The majority of activities are included in the entry price. To find out more about Freaky Nature, go to http://www.edenproject.com/come-and-visit/whats-on/kids-and-families/fre.... To view the Titan arum on Eden’s dedicated webcam, go to http://www.edenproject.com/come-and-visit/whats-here/rainforest-biome/ti....

Event date: 
Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - 15:30 to Sunday, June 10, 2012 - 17:00
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