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Blooming Marvellous: Eden's Smelliest Plant in Flower

titan arum
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9:08am 13th May 2014

A giant flower that smells like rotting flesh has bloomed at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) measures a whopping 282cm (9ft 3in) and will be in full bloom in the project's Rainforest Biome for only two days before it starts to die back.

This Titan is the 9th flower Eden has produced but is the first one to bloom twice; a very rare occurrence. Titan arums normally live for between seven and 10 years before flowering for as little as 48 hours and then dying.

Tim Grigg, Eden's resident expert on the plants, cut the flower back after it first bloomed in 2011 and to his amazement it flowered again. When it first flowered, this plant claimed the title of Eden's biggest ever Titan, measuring 291cm at its tallest - just short of the 310cm world record.

Tim plans to cut this flower back too, which he hopes will help the Titan bloom for a third time.

The Titan arum is sometimes known as the "corpse flower" because of the fetid stench it emits when flowering. This malodorous musk attracts insects and animals that pollinate the plant.

Tim Grigg said: "I feel really excited and proud of this ninth Titan arum flower, especially because this is the first time we have had one flowering twice. I want everyone to be able to see and enjoy these amazing plants."

Tim Grigg has grown all of Eden's Titan arums and has worked at the project for 15 years.

In that time, he has become one of the world's top Titan growers. Besides the ones that have already flowered at Eden, Tim looks after a small forest of around 30 smaller specimens which are due to bloom in the next few years.

In his time working with the plants, Tim has propagated them using a variety of different techniques.

In November 2007, he successfully pollinated a flower using a paintbrush attached to a bamboo cane with pollen he acquired from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Many of the young plants he currently looks after at the nursery were grown from this fruit.

9:08am 13th May 2014

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