The world’s biggest, smelliest flower is due to blossom imminently at the Eden Project.
The 268cm-tall Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is currently only 23cm short of Eden’s biggest ever Titan and could break that record in the next few days. It will be the ninth that has flowered at Eden but is due to be the first one to bloom twice.
Currently it is growing at an astonishing rate of between 15 and 20cm a day and is due to flower either over the weekend or early next week – almost a year to the day since the last one bloomed at Eden.
Titan arums normally live for between seven and 10 years before flowering for as little as 48 hours and then dying.
This plant is a first for Eden as the project’s resident expert Tim Grigg cut the flower back after it first bloomed in 2011 and to his amazement it flowered again. In 2011, it claimed the title of Eden’s biggest ever Titan, measuring 291cm at its tallest.
The Titan arum is sometimes known as the “corpse flower” because of the fetid stench that it emits when flowering. This malodorous musk attracts insects and animals that pollinate the plant. Some specimens have been known to reach 3m (just under 10ft) in height when they flower.
Eden will be installing a “stinky step”, which will give brave visitors the chance to get up close to the flower and get their face right in the funk.
Tim Grigg said: “I am really proud of this Titan, the first one that has flowered twice at Eden. Here's to many more Titan arum flowers in years to come.”
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.
Visitors can keep an eye on the Titan’s progress with a webcam at www.edenproject.com/titan-arum-webcam.