WHAT do zoo gardeners get each other for Christmas? A plant, of course – but not just any old plant.

Gardeners at Paignton Zoo in Devon have donated a Titan arum – one of the largest and smelliest plants in the world to Marwell Zoo.

Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) blooms can be up to three metres high and three metres in circumference and smell like rotting meat. This one has no foliage, consisting of just the tuber, the swollen food store found underneath the soil. Big plants need big tubers – this one is more than 19 kilos.

Paignton Zoo head gardener Catherine Mortimer said: “Our success with Titans has been great for fostering links with other botanical organisations and gaining recognition for our horticultural efforts. It’s great to be able to share - we have a good relationship with our colleagues at Marwell. This is a gift for their new Tropical House!”

Paignton Zoo has an excellent record with Titans, with three other mature specimens on site and 49 seedlings cultivated from a previous flowering. Catherine added: “Now is the time to move the plant, as it’s dormant – you simply can’t do it while it’s growing, you have to wait for it to die back to the tuber. This Titan is a good size now - we think it might even flower in 2019!”

Three zoo gardeners travelled with the plant before showing Marwell’s Plants and Landscape team how to repot the plant.

Lance Ingram, plants and landscape team manager for Marwell Zoo, said: “We’re delighted with the gift from Paignton Zoo and have the precious plant in a safe place for the time being. We’re hoping it will flower this coming summer and look forward to updating our guests once it is on display.”

The plant comes from the rainforests of Sumatra and is a member of the Arum family.