Eden Project live-streaming Titan arum plants flowering

Two specimens of one of the world's biggest, smelliest flowers - the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) - have burst forth at the Eden Project in Cornwall, causing a sensation among visitors.

Corpse flowers in bloom at the Eden Project. Image: Supplied
Corpse flowers in bloom at the Eden Project. Image: Supplied

This is the first time Eden has ever had two Titan arum flowers blooming at the same time. They are situated in an "avenue of stench" in Eden's Rainforest Biome, flanking a third flower which is set to bloom at any moment.

Eden has installed a webcam so people who can't come to see the floral extravaganza can watch the titans bloom onscreen. The gardens' Twitter feed (@edenproject) is also posting regular updates on the progress of the plants with the hashtag #tripletitans.

The titan arums have the proper name of Amorphophallus titanum but are also known as corpse flowers because the horrendous odour they give off to attract pollinators is similar to that of decaying flesh.

Last year Eden had three titans side by side but only two went into flower - the other was at a fruiting stage so was not stinky.

Having three in their flowering stage amounts to a unique botanical event at Eden, which is thanks to the dedication of one man - horticulturist "Tropical" Tim Grigg.

Grigg, 36, has nurtured the titans for half his life, hand pollinating the individual flowers, and considers them almost like family.

He became fascinated by the plants when he first started working at Eden's nursery at the age of 18 and a batch of rare seedlings came in from Bonn Botanic Garden in Germany.

He said: "I'm really proud that we have two of these spectacular plants blooming at the same time, an incredibly rare occurrence since titan arums only flower for up to 48 hours at a time. This is a unique opportunity for Eden visitors to experience these flowers up close and get double the pong from our 'avenue of stench'."

Pollinated by beetles and flies, the Titan arum usually lives for between seven and 10 years before flowering for as little as 48 hours and then dying.

The plant originates from the rainforest in western Sumatra, Indonesia, and grows on steep hillsides. It is rare in the wild and even scarcer in cultivation, but Grigg has had an astounding success rate at Eden.

Although the current plants will die after flowering, there are around 40 further plants at various stages in the nursery so there will be plenty more to come. 

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