Giant flower blooms despite cold

PUBLISHED: 10:57 09 December 2011

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Archant

A giant dahlia, towering three metres, is still in its prime at Bicton College because of one of the mildest autumns on record.

The Dahlia Imperialis is usually cut down by frost, before it begins flowering, in November and December.

But this year’s mild weather has allowed the plant to continue growing and open its flowers.

The statuesque plant is native to Central America, where it can reach nine metres, while the flowers are a spectacular bonus in this country.

The tree dahlia is not really a tree, but a tuberous perennial, like other dahlias.

The pink/purple flowers are 15cm across and the stems grow to four inches thick and are hollow like bamboo.

They were used by the ancient Aztecs as pipes to carry drinking water, while the leaves are still used as a dietary supplement by the Q’eqchi’ people of San Pedro Carchá in Guatemala.

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