The world’s biggest, smelliest flower is blooming in the Eden Project’s Rainforest Biome – but visitors will have to be quick to catch a whiff because it will only be open for around 48 hours.
The titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is sometimes known as a corpse flower because of its malodorous pong which it uses to attract pollinating insects.
This rare, gargutuan plant from Sumatra, Indonesia, has become an Eden speciality in recent years. It can grow for up to 10 years and reach more than 3m but flowers just momentarily before dying back.
Eden’s latest titan arum is 2.07m tall and has been grown from a cutting by horticulturist and titan arum expert Tim Grigg, who has cultivated 24 of the spectacular red and green blooms since the project opened in 2001.
Tim said: “The titan arum is probably the most eye and nose-catching plant at the Eden Project and, whenever they flower, they always kick up a stink with our visitors.
“Discussion on the nature of its smell is rife around the titan, with some comparing it to gone-off cheese and others to decomposing rats, but all are in agreement that it is pretty unpleasant.”
Tim looks after around 40 other titans in various stages of their life at Eden’s nursery. These have been grown either from seed harvested from Eden’s previous titans or other plants grown from cuttings. To enable the titans to fruit Tim has used pollen from other gardens such as the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
Titan arums are thermogenic, meaning they produce their own heat to spread their smell and attract pollinators. When the flower first opens, it heats up to around 38 degrees centigrade and can sometimes be smelled from up to half a mile away.
Last June Eden launched a spoof fragrance for men based on the powerful stench of the titan arum, called Eau de Titan.
For more about Eden go to www.edenproject.com.