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Glasgow's Giant Voodoo Lily set to cause a stink

For some years now, a giant has been slowly forming at Glasgow Botanic Gardens.  In the New Year a shoot appeared from within a large black pot in the tropical temperatures of the Palm House.  The stem grew thicker and thicker and rich green markings appeared. Gradually, over many weeks, it became clear that this was going to become a very special flower.  And it is about to open. 

The plant, Amorphophallus gigas, or 'The Giant Voodoo Lily', is only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is one of the tallest in the world. 

Once open, the large, lofty flower produces a powerful and revolting stench akin to rotting flesh which, in the wild, attracts various carrion and dung beetles.  In Sumatra, the local people call it "bunga bangkai" or corpse flower. Some Victorian naturalists originally thought it was pollinated by wild elephants - because of its height.

Ewen Donaldson, Curator at Glasgow Botanic Gardens, said: "We grew the plant from seed given to us some years ago by a German student at Glasgow University who collected plants in the Araceae family. 

"The plant only flowers every few years and is flowering for the first time in Glasgow. When the new shoot appeared we didn't take that much notice as it looked exactly like a regular shoot producing just leaves.  It only became apparent a few days ago that it was going to be a flower.

"All Amorphophallus flowers are grotesque and smell revolting because they are pollinated by flies.  While it may not sound very appealing, it is exciting as it's the first time it's flowered here."

The Amorphophallus gigas in Glasgow Botanic Gardens, is expected to fully open any day now.

It's situated in the Palm House in the Main Range Glasshouse.

Other interesting plants at Glasgow Botanic Gardens include the Madagascar periwinkle (in flower just now) which produces a drug that today is saving the lives of people suffering from Hodgkins disease.  There is also the Moreton Bay Chestnut from Australia which is helping in the treatment of AIDS by rendering sufferers non-contagious. 

The glasshouses in Glasgow Botanic Gardens are open daily from 10am to 4.15pm. 


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