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Rare Eden pollen sent off to Germany for breeding project

Pollen from Eden’s giant titan arum flower is being sent to Germany to help breed more of the rare and spectacular plants.

The pollen is being given to Bonn University Botanic Garden. It has been harvested from Eden’s latest titan, which towered over two metres tall when it bloomed last weekend. It will be used by horticulturists in Bonn to pollinate titan flowers there.

To collect the pollen, Eden scientists carefully cut a hole in the base of the spathe that encloses the spadix, or flower spike, and then used a spoon to scrape the pollen into a container.

Originating from Indonesia, the plant – proper name Amorphophallus titanum – is the largest flowering structure (inflorescence) on Earth and can grow up to three metres tall.

It was given its common name of titan arum by Sir David Attenborough during filming of the Private Life of Plants series.

Eden and Bonn have a long history of working together to propagate titan arum plants. Eden’s first flowering titan, which bloomed back in 2005, was grown from a seed given to the project by Bonn.

This latest flower was the twenty eighth to bloom at Eden and it too has Bonn heritage. It was grown from seed at Eden which came from a Bonn plant pollinated with pollen from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

All of Eden’s titans have been grown by horticulturist Tim Grigg, a self-taught expert in the plants who looks after a small forest of young specimens at Eden’s nursery. Tim has worked at Eden for nearly 20 years.

Markus Radscheit, garden manager of Bonn University Botanic Gardens, said: “One of the absolute flagship plants in botanical gardens is the titan arum. Not every garden is able to grow and bring these plants to successful flower. Only when technical requirements meet expertise in horticulture is it possible to cultivate this fascinating plant successfully.

“This recently harvested pollen will enable the flowering titan arum in Bonn to be pollinated, hopefully towards the end of this month. This is a prime example of how efficiently botanical institutions work together with the aim to conserve and enhance their plant collections for the benefit on mankind. Thank you, Eden.”

Dr Mike Maunder, Eden’s director of life sciences, said: “The titan arum is an extraordinary and exuberant envoy for the world’s tropical forests. Eden is delighted to be working with Bonn on this co-operative breeding programme this is key to establishing a secure cultivated population in Europe’s botanic gardens.”

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