Sheep-Eating Plant in Glasshouse Blooms for First Time

June 21, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Sheep-eating plant: A giant plant at the glasshouse at the Garden Wisley at the Royal Horticultural Society, standing almost 10 feet tall, has bloomed for the first time.

The plant is has an interesting secret.

“In its natural habitat in the Andes it uses its razor sharp spines to snare and trap sheep and other animals, which slowly starve to death and decay at the base of the plant, providing it with the grizzly equivalent of a bag of fertiliser,” according to the society.

The plant in the glasshouse is set to bloom within the next few days and will bloom for around a week.

The blossoms contain enough nectar for a person to drink; few plants have blossomed in the United Kingdom, because the plant’s taste for sheep is hard to replace with other things.

“The plant’s taste for sheep has also proved it’s undoing in its native habitat where shepherds will go in search of the plants and set fire to them to protect their flocks,” according to the society.

Cara Smith, who looks after the plant at the glasshouse, said in the announcement that “I’m really pleased that we’ve finally coaxed our Puya chilensis into flower.”

“We keep it well fed with liquid fertiliser as feeding it on its natural diet might prove a bit problematic,” she said. “It’s well worth a visit but parents coming along with small children don’t need to worry about the plant devouring their little ones. It’s growing in the arid section of our Glasshouse with its deadly spines well out of reach of both children and sheep alike.”

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