The possibility of having grown the biggest indoor flower ever has got the gardeners at Cornwall’s Eden Project waiting with baited breath. The plant is a giant plant typically found in the rainforest and going by the name of Titan Arum, Amorphophallus titanum. It has taken 9 years so far to get to its current height of 8ft 2in and its flower is growing by a whopping 5 inches per day.
When it flowers it will only last for 2-3 days before dying. Up until now, the biggest Titan Arum that has ever flowered in captivity was in New Hampshire, USA, and it reached the heady height of 3.1m. Tim Gregg, a resident expert at the Eden Project has used all his skills and knowledge to nurture this Titan Arum and to time its flowering to coincide with the ‘Freaky Natures’ activities which begin on May the 28th, and predicts that it will flower sometime next week.
The tuber which has sprouted from this mighty plant weigh in at a mind boggling 120kg, the biggest that Tim has ever had to harvest.
The Titan will be just one exhibit in an amazing showcase of the weird and wonderful world of plants. Visitors to Freaky Nature can check out interactive exhibits and discover the ingenious tricks plants have come up with to help them survive.
There will be poisonous plants, spiky plants, sticky plants, carnivorous plants, exploding plants and – in the case of the Titan arum – giant smelly plants. The Titan will feature in the event’s freaky tours of the rainforest.
The giant plant will be the fifth example that has flowered at Eden and, for the first time ever, will be joined in the Biome by another specimen which is due to flower shortly after. Tim hopes to be able to use pollen from the first plant to pollinate the second and thereby breed many more seeds.
Tim said: “This beautiful plant is already bigger than any other Titan Arum flower I’ve ever grown and I’m getting very excited to see what the final height will be – here’s hoping for a new world record!
“This is the first time that I have ever had two Titan flowers blooming at the same time and I’m really proud, especially considering how rare they are.”
Tim, who is based at the Eden Project’s Watering Lane Nursery, has established himself as one of the world’s top experts on the plants, having successfully pollinated and propagated Titans since he nurtured Eden’s first specimen to flower in 2005. He currently has just under a hundred examples of the plant in various stages of development.
The plant hails from Sumatra and is a distant relative of the ‘lords and ladies’, a British lily. The plant is distinguished by its yellowy, fleshy spike known as a spadix. This is wrapped in a single cream leaf which, when opened, reveals a rich crimson inside.
When the plant is ready to attract pollinators, the spike heats up and gives off the smell which disgusts humans but is very attractive to insects. It then develops the fruit which attracts birds.
This year, Freaky Nature comes with an intriguing extra feature – added poo. Freaky Nature with Poo! delves deep into the science of dirt, poo and the magic of manure, looking at what it’s made of, why it smells, how it is treated and the weird and wonderful things it’s used for. The event has been developed with the Wellcome Trust as part of their Dirt season.
Freaky Nature with Poo! takes place across the Eden site from May 28 until June 5. All Freaky Nature activities are included in the price of Eden admission except the Sticky Survival event in the Arena which is £2.50 per person, with tickets available at the Freaky Nature shop.