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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 September 2007, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Rare spiky plant flowers at Eden
Jann Coles with Hoodia plant
Kalahari bushmen have eaten Hoodia plants for centuries
A rare plant which researchers believe could help combat obesity has flowered at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

It is thought to be the first time that the succulent Hoodia plant, which was grown by horticulturalists at Eden's nursery, has flowered in the UK.

The Hoodia has been eaten for centuries by San bushmen of the Kalahari to suppress their appetite while hunting.

Research is being undertaken into the possibility of the plant being used in the production of anti-obesity drugs.

Hoodia facts
Grows in the Kalahari desert
Eaten by the San Bushmen to stave off hunger
Has a pungent odour
Protected by conservation laws

Because it is from an arid region, the plant will not appear in Eden's Rainforest or Mediterranean Biomes but will be used in an educational exhibit.

It will also form part of the project's horticulture team's preparations for Eden's next phase, the Edge.

Eden horticulturalist Jann Coles said: "We are delighted that the Hoodia has flowered for what may be the first time in the UK here at Eden.

"It's a privilege to be looking after such a rare and beautiful plant, especially one with such interesting scientific potential."

The plant, which has a pungent smell, is protected by conservation laws and can only be collected or grown with a permit.

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Sampling the Kalahari Hoodia diet
30 May 03 |  Correspondent

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