People are being invited to see an "otherworldly" plant that has taken 10 years to bloom.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens said the Puya alpestris, from the Chilean Andes, began to flower in one of its glasshouses last week. It is described as a "truly rare event" with visitors told they have just days to see the "exquisite" plant.

Staff, meanwhile, face a race against time to pollinate it by hand. Puya alpestris is native to the mountainous regions of central and southern Chile and distantly related to the pineapple, the botanical garden said.

It has an "alien-like appearance and spectacularly coloured hues", which has seen it nicknamed the Sapphire Tower. The rare plant takes up to a decade to bloom with the flowers dying soon after

Alberto Trinco, a senior glasshouse horticulturist, said he would have to attempt hand pollination as in the wild the plant would rely on hummingbirds. “Each flower only lasts a few days, giving us a limited window of time to give nature a helping hand, he said.

"It is very slow-growing, so to witness its spectacular blooms is both exciting and rare." It is thought visitors have between 10 days and two weeks to see the plant in all its glory.