Well, am back after a lovely family holiday down in the beautiful county of Dorset. As I mentioned before, it’s the first time i’ve explored this part of our coastline, and I can definitely say it wont be the last!
I dont really want to extol the delights of Dorset too much, as it means that everyone will want to go and try it out….so Shhhhhhhh…keep it to yourselves, but i have to say the Jurassic coastline was spectacular, and the kids – and myself – spent many an hour rock scrambling, searching (and finding) fossils and caves. The sunshine shone for us the majority of the time, but true to form the day we went out for a beach picnic it was overcast, very windy and quite chilly – but as promised in my previous blog - we braved the elements ‘because it was our holidays!’
Anyway, whilst collecting our bingo pens from the caravan one evening (luxury I might add!), I caught the end of the local evening news. The main story came from the Eden Project – I dont know whether you heard it or not, and it was announcing that the Titan Arum – commonly referred to as the Corpse Flower, had blossomed after a 9 year wait. These rare plants can reach a height of up to 12 feet in a cultivated environment, and it is unknown how tall they can reach in their native conditions. The titan arum was originally discovered by an Italian botanist, Odoardo Beccari, in Sumatra in 1878. Though found in many botanic gardens around the world it is still indigenous only to the tropical forests of Sumatra.
A mature bucket shaped flower emerges from a huge tuber, and in preparation for the few days of flowering, the plant must shed its single leaf (which can be the size of a small tree) and then lie dormant for 4 months whilst its musters up enough strength to produce umbrella sized petals that open to a diameter of 3-4 feet.
Its distinctive smell can be detected up to half a mile away, and is reminiscent of rotting flesh. This is due to a concoction of sulfurous chemicals along with the aptly named cadaverene and putrescine compounds, which are also produced when flesh breaks down, hence the name Corpse flower.
Hundreds of people have been down to the Eden Project to have a look but many of these have to recoil in horror due to its overpowering stench. You can actually see it growing at a staggering quarter of an inch per hour!
Luckily the smell only lasts for the 2 days that the plant is in full bloom. The Eden Project has set up a webcam so that you can follow the birth and death of the bloom without the smell………
Have a look and see what you think – its a funny looking thing, and the smell would definitely put you off having your picnic in one of the Biodomes for sure!