Usually found in the harsh desert environments of the southern United States, Dasylirion wheeleri rarely flowers in cultivation in the UK, however the specimen in Kew Gardens had a remarkable growth spurt – 18 inches in 24 hours – before the team in the Princess of Wales Conservatory had to remove a glass panel from the ceiling to allow its escape.
Another of the plants found in the wet tropics zone of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum) is also set to flower this week. This huge flowering structure produces a nauseating stench, often likened to rotting flesh.
Nick Johnson, manager of the Princess of Wales Conservatory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said: "It’s so exciting to see this incredible specimen making a bid for freedom out the roof of the conservatory – a truly rare flowering for the UK. Having both the Dasylirion and the titan arum blooming at once just shows how unpredictably weird and wonderful nature can be. It’s so fantastic to see our plants putting on such a wonderful display. So, make sure you get to Kew Gardens over the next couple of days."