Jade-coloured jewel of the rainforest charms Eden visitors this Easter
The coming of spring at the Eden Project in Cornwall has been marked by the bursting into bloom of a rare and beautiful tropical flower usually found in the Philippines rainforest.
Visitors to the Rainforest Biome – the biggest rainforest in captivity – are being stopped in their tracks by the stunning jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys), which takes its name from the vivid colour of its blooms.
The plant puts out its claw-shaped flowers in dense clusters, known as inflorescences, which extend down by as much as 90cm.
The plant currently blooming at Eden is just inside the main door of the Rainforest Biome, meaning all visitors will be able to see it as they enter.
In the wild the jade vine has an ingenious way of pollinating. Bats are attracted to its flowers and, as they lean in to drink the nectar from one part of the flower, another part brushes the back of their head with pollen. This pollen is then passed on to the next flower the bat visits in the same way.
To replicate this process in the Rainforest Biome, Eden’s horticulture team manually pollinate the flowers with paintbrushes.
Rainforest Horticulturist Lucy Wenger, pictured here with the jade vine, said: “The jade vine really is a marvel, a real show-stopper of a plant with large clusters of flowers in a colour unlike anything else. It has a fascinating pollination story and it’s well worth making a visit to Eden this Easter to see it for yourself.”
The jade vine is one of many attractions at Eden. From tomorrow (Saturday March 24), Eden begins its new three-week programme of activities for Easter including a giant inflatable challenge, spring maze and golden egg hunt.
Younger children can enjoy an under-fives soft play area in the Stage, a hoopla game or guess-who activity with animal faces in the Orchard. There are also board games and a bee buzz challenge where a steady hand is needed to guide the bee on its pollination journey.
In the Mediterranean Biome there will be a chance to see the fun family show Operation Earth exploring Earth’s amazing science and stories in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
During the interactive performance the audience will be invited to become trainee environmental scientists when ‘Earthy’ – a mini version of the planet earth – takes a trip to the doctors.
All activities are included in the standard Eden Project admission price. For more information or to buy tickets, see www.edenproject.com.