A fruit salad tree has unexpectedly started flowering at Bristol Aquarium for the first time in more than four years.
The tree, which is native to the tropical rainforests of southern Mexico and south to Colombia, began flowering last week and it is hoped will continue to produce new flowers for several weeks more.
As its name suggests, the tree also produces edible fruits which taste like pineapple, however these can take up to a year to ripen.
Bristol Aquarium horticulturist Wendy Desyllas, who looks after the aquarium’s botanical collection, said: “The tree we are growing is around four years old and was grown from a rooted cutting taken from a plant that was originally growing in the planted area around the aquarium’s piranha display.
“This is the first time it has flowered as they generally don’t flower before four years maturity.
“It is currently around a metre tall but will grow to about five metres and some of the aerial roots it has put out in search of water have found their way to the waterfall pool and are already around four metres long.
“Our urban jungle is really thriving at the moment. We’ve had bananas appear this year and our Hibiscus has burst into bright yellow flower in the past few weeks.
It is great to see the fruit salad tree now flowering as well, visitors can get a really good view of it from the walkway beside the waterfall,” she added.
In addition to its edible fruit, different parts of the tree have been utilised for everything from rope in Peru, a drink to relieve arthritis in Mexico and as a remedy for snake bites in Martinique.
As well as its fishy residents, Bristol Aquarium is home to dozens of exotic plants, flowers and trees from around the world – all housed within the giant glasshouse.
The botanical collection includes a display of orchids, flowering bougainvillea, Spanish flags, papaya plants, a ‘Jurassic Corner’ based around a collection of prehistoric tree ferns, Madagascan jasmine and fruiting banana trees.
Among the other horticultural highlights are the giant bamboos which grow at an extraordinary rate of up to 20 centimetres a day and the aquarium’s own crop of chillis and tamarillos.
Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange picture/ filming opportunities please contact Sarah Moore or David Waines on 0117 929 8929.