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Mind how ewe go: the sheep-eating killer plant that’s ready to bloom


A sheep-eating plant is set to bloom over the next few days in a Surrey garden. In its natural habitat of the Andes, the 3m-tall Puya chilensis snares the animals in its razor-sharp spines, leaving them to perish and decay at its base – like a bag of fertiliser.

Very few specimens have been known to flower in the UK, causing much excitement over the enormous neon bright, greeny-yellow flowers that it produces, with giant blooms containing enough nectar for a person to drink. The plant is also increasingly rare in its native Chile, where shepherds set them alight to protect their flocks.

Cara Smith, from the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley Garden, where the plant is growing, said: “We keep it well fed with liquid fertiliser, as feeding it on its natural diet might prove a bit problematic.”