Bristol Zoo is growing world's biggest flower

Gardeners at Bristol Zoo are trying to grow one of the biggest flowers in the world.

They are using seeds sent from Paignton Zoo which in 2012 became the first UK zoo to get a Titan arum to bloom.

Seeds from the plants have now been sent to Bristol and a number of other zoos around the country including Edinburgh as well as Cambridge University and the National Trust.

The Titan arum, also known as the corpse flower, is a tropical plant famous for smelling like rotting meat and can grow up to three metres (almost 10 feet) tall.

The flowers, which are green on the outside and bright red on the inside, can be as much as three metres in circumference and are amongst the largest in the world.

Eddie Mole, head of horticulture at Bristol Zoological Society, said: “This is one of those legendary plants that you used to read about in encyclopedias.

“We have never tried to grow a Titan arum before and we are really excited.

“We are grateful to Paignton Zoo for sending us the seeds. They have done an amazing job in cultivating these plants over the past few years and as one of the oldest botanical gardens in the country we are now hoping to do the same.”

He said if all goes well the Titan arum will flower in five to seven years.

Eddie said: “They are just so interesting and they are rare in cultivation. We are hoping they will grow well enough for us to put them on display at the Zoo eventually.”

For now the 22 seeds are being carefully propagated at Bristol Zoological Society’s greenhouses at Wild Place Project under the care of its gardens’ team.

Some have been planted in compost and others in moss and they are all being kept at between 24C (75F) and 27C (80F) and in 80 per cent humidity.

But when they do bloom their giant umbrella like flowers only last a few days.

The Titan arum plant comes from the rainforests of Sumatra and is classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Plants.

After its success in 2012 Paignton Zoo again succeeded in getting a Titan arum to bloom in 2015 and last year managed to get two of the plants to flower.

Bristol Zoo, which was established 181 years ago, is a botanical garden and its 12 acre site is home to thousands of flowers, plants and trees.


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