Pitcher this! New flesh-eating plant to be unveiled at Eden
A giant new type of meat-eating plant is to be unveiled in the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project on Monday (April 1), alongside a warning for visitors to approach with extreme caution.
The prototype botanical freak is part of a family of carnivorous plants called pitchers and is the result of a pioneering breeding programme at Eden’s nursery over several years.
Pitcher plants are famous for growing long cylindrical jugs (or pitchers) containing a sticky goo which act as pitfall traps for insects. The plant then feasts on its prey.
The new type at Eden has just been officially recognised in the plant world and named Nepenthes griggus var giganticus after Tim Grigg, the skilled horticulturist who cross bred it from two established types of outsized pitchers.
With a length of nearly two metres and a tubular capacity estimated at 30 litres, the hybrid is thought to be easily the biggest pitcher plant ever bred in captivity.
It and some other smaller examples are being unveiled in the Rainforest Biome as a star attraction of Eden’s Freaky Nature season which is running over Easter.
Due to the potential danger of the pitchers, Eden is posting members of its security team in the area where they’ve been planted.
Tim Grigg said: “Pitcher plants are some of the most exotic and fascinating plants in the botanical world. This new breed is at least 20 times bigger than anything we have seen before and has taken five years to grow to this size.
“These plants are famous for devouring insects and these giant ones are no exception. They have a considerable appetite for anything creepy-crawly.
“We don't want anyone to get too close in case they fall in and the plant tries to digest them, although we think this is unlikely because the goo takes a long time to break down flesh. Nevertheless, we are taking no risks. We have to protect the plant as well as our visitors.”
Tim pollinated the new pitcher with pollen donated by the Nationale Botanique Institute de France. The Institute’s leading nepenthes expert Dr Avril Furst said: “This astonishing plant is a result of groundbreaking research by Eden’s horticulturists but I’m glad they have decided to station security guards next to it – if it gets a taste for human flesh we could have a real-life Day of the Triffids situation on our hands.”
Eden’s Freaky Nature activities take place until April 14. Visitors have the chance to discover the freaky side of food, to find out which peculiar plants make it to the plate and exactly how they’re grown.
They can also learn how plants eat and how they stop being eaten themselves, as well as taking part in freaky food experiments.
The activities include a fiendishly freaky take on crazy golf, a giant Velcro Wall, an exploration into the darker side of plants and the Bug Boutique.
For more information on Eden’s plants, activities and events, go to www.edenproject.com