Wednesday, 21 November 2007

A Nice Green Leaf: We wish you a smelly Christmas

Icerinkv10100341_3By Emma Townshend

The lengths horticulturalists have to go to keep their gardens going…

You’d hope that we lived in a world where people visited the Eden Project or Kew Gardens because it was a good cause 'n all that. But over the winter, we have to be tempted out of our toasty little houses by promises of Santa, mince pies, dramatic evening openings, ice-skating, fondues, festive shopping, roast chestnuts, gingerbread making, Bedouin tents, the Salvation army, wreath making, pumpkin soup, angel choirs, kissing bowers, carolling Cornish choirs and lantern processions.

This winter there’s been another draw though – with not a whiff of Boots Christmas pot-pourri about it. Amorphophallus titanum has flowered this November in both Kew and Eden.

Why’s that exciting? Well because it’s the world’s stinkiest plant. (Unexpectedly, this is not just of interest to small boys.)



Pollen was taken from the Kew plant, which flowered first, to the Eden project to pollinate theirs.

And on the Kew website you can see timelapse footage of the 6ft flower spike opening. Though sadly not in smell-o-rama.

The only problem with the titan arum is that while you can gawp at
the flower for a good fortnight, it only actually smells really bad for
48 hours. I guess you could look at this either as a disadvantage or an
advantage, but it certainly leaves keen visitors only a small window of
opportunity to get down there and have a look. Otherwise, you'll just
have to make do with boring old Santa. Sigh.

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