Humid Tropics Biome Planting Starts
Britain's most spectacular rainforest has started to take root at the £80 million Eden Project.
About 500 exotic trees and thousands plants and shrubs are being manoeuvred into place in the vast humid-tropics biome - at 50 metres-tall the of Eden's greenhouses.
The biome houses four different kinds of rainforest, showcasing plants from Amazonia, West Africa, the Oceanic Island and Malaysia.
Eventually more than 12,000 plants, many grown from seed at Eden's own Watering Lane Nursery, near Pentewan and many more imported from Dutch nurseries, will be given a new home in the biome.
The tallest tree so far is the 15metres tall kapok tree (Ceiba Petandra), which grows in West Africa and Amazoria.
Eden's horticultural director Philip Mcmillan Browse said: "When we first thought up the Eden Project, we said to each other, "Why don't we build the biggest greenhouse in the world and put a rainforest in it. "Now, at last, we're doing just that.
"But the whole planting operation has had to be extremely carefully worked out.
"We've had to decide which are the most important plants - they have a 'red label', status and come hell or high water they are given strict priority. Other plants may not like the soil and if this is the case they will he replaced. We have thousands of plants to choose from.
"I've specifically recruited young people who are talented, knowledgeable and fully committed to the Eden Project.
"They will be working with the project from scratch and will grow in experience as the plants themselves grow.
"This is simply the beginning of what will eventually be a vast and awe-inspiring rainforest canopy."
Among the more interesting plant species housed in the Humid Tropics are:
Cananga Odorata, from Malaysia, curiously used in the manufacture of No5 perfume.
The smelling Ochroma Paniculata, also from Malaysia.
Prunis Africana, from West Africa, which contains properties used in the treatment of prostate illnesses.
Attalea Maripa from Amazonia, the heaviest tree planted at Eden so far.
The bill for the whole Eden site is expected to £2.5 to £3 million. More then 70,000 plants are being grown at Eden's Watering Lane Nursery for transportation to the site.
The Humid Tropics biome is large enough to house the Tower of London tall enough for a tower of 11 double Decker buses and long enough for a nose-to-nose traffic jam of 24 buses.
More than 85,000 tonnes of soil is being specially blended from china clay waste, tree bark and other organic materials.
( Report from the Cornish Guardian 05/10/00 Cornwall's best newspaper.)
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