Sheep-Eating Plant Opens Up After 15 Years

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Someone call Tim Burton. This seems like his cup of tea. A Chilean plant with sharp spines known as the “sheep-eating plant” is blooming in a British greenhouse for the first time since it was planted 15 years ago.

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Botanists at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley branch in Surrey planted the puya chilensis 15 years ago there. Now, after all this time, the monstrous plant’s 10-foot flower spike is finally blooming. The flowers should last for about a week. Hat tip to Gawker for the news.

These spiky plants native to the Andes make Venus fly traps look tame by comparison. Puya chilensis got its sheep-eating nickname because its sharp spines located near the ground trap animals in the wild, causing them to starve to death. Then the dead animals serve as gruesome fertilizer so the plant can grow.

Fortunately for visitors at the RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, this thing is on a vegetarian diet and won’t be left to ensnare passers-by. “We keep it well fed with liquid fertilizer as feeding it on its natural diet might prove a bit problematic,” horticulturalist Cara Smith told the BBC.

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My favorite part of this whole thing has to be BBC Surrey reporting live on the scene in Wisley. The interviewer wore a sheep costume. Don’t feed it, Seymour.

Photo: The sheep-eating plant grows in its native Chile. Credit: The National Botanic Garden.

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