The first of two huge smelly flowers has bloomed at Paignton Zoo.
Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) flowers can be up to 3 metres high and 3 metres in circumference and smell like rotting meat. In 2012, Paignton Zoo was the first zoological collection in the UK to have a Titan arum bloom. The gardens team succeeded again in 2015 – but 2017 could be their best year ever for these smelly giants.
Giles Palmer, Curator of Plants and Gardens at Paignton Zoo, said: “We have two Titan arums in Crocodile Swamp opposite one of the crocodile pools. When you stand looking at the plants, the female saltwater crocodile creeps up behind you, which is a little unnerving!”
Giles: “We nicknamed this first plant Tiny Tim – the tuber of the second one is much larger!” The second Titan is three or four weeks behind and weighed an impressive 56kgs when re-potted in March.
Giles added: “It is great for us to be able to talk about horticulture at Paignton Zoo. We are a combined zoological and botanical garden, the plants are as important as the animals. This has been a really good opportunity to remind people of that. The whole gardens team has worked hard on this and should be very proud of the results.”
The plant – from the rainforests of Sumatra and a member of the Arum family – is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. It has one of the largest flowers in the world; the bloom – correctly, an inflorescence – is green on the outside and bright red inside, with ribbed sides and a frilled edge. Due to its odour – said to be like rotting meat – it’s known as a carrion flower, and has been dubbed corpse flower or corpse plant. It emits the strong smell at night to attract pollinators.
You can find out more about Paignton Zoo here: www.paigntonzoo.org.uk
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