Hankies at the ready! Three of the world’s biggest, stinkiest flowers are ready to burst forth at Eden
The Eden Project is today bracing itself for an almighty stink as three of the biggest, smelliest flowers in the world are due to blossom at around the same time.
Visitors will be warned about the ‘avenue of stench’ created by the hat-trick of titan arums before entering the sultry confines of the biggest undercover rainforest in the world.
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.
The titanic trio now stand in giant pots in the Rainforest Biome at Eden ready to burst forth in the coming days. No-one can be certain when they will fully flower but when they do each one will be in its full smelly glory for about two days and then wilt and die.
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 ready to burst forth amounts to a unique botanical event at Eden and it is all down to the dedication of one man – horticulturist “Tropical” Tim Grigg.
Tim, 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: “Every one of the 12 titans we have brought to flower at Eden so far has caused a sensation among visitors and gardeners. To have three going off at around the same time is amazing. Brace yourself for the smell - we will have an avenue of stench stronger than anything.”
Tim, whose daughter Abbie has helped pollinate the titans, continued: “Having nurtured these plants over many years I have a great affection and fascination for them. There are about 40 at various stages in our nursery so we have lots more to come.
“They are mighty big plants - their giant under-soil tubers can weigh more than 75kg.
“I check on them every day to see what progress they have made and it is very exciting when you see one start to go into flower. They are my favourite plants and in a way have become like family. I love to see them grow and thrive.”
Tim and fellow Eden gardeners will be watching closely to see which of the three about to sprout grows tallest. Eden’s biggest ever Titan flowered in 2011, reaching a height of 291cm.
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 Tim has had an astounding success rate at Eden.
Eden has installed a webcam so people who can’t come to see the floral extravaganza can watch the titans bloom onscreen here: http://www.edenproject.com/titan-arum-webcam-2016.
Eden’s Twitter feed (@edenproject) will be posting regular updates on the progress of the plants with the hashtag #tripletitans.
Tim added: “‘Smellyvision’ has yet to be invented – so if you want to experience the flowers with all your senses you have to get up quite close!”