Century Plant

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New Mexico is phenomenally weird and the Century Plant is a prime example. Thanks to S. Smith for taking this pic and sending it along, even if it ain't an animal.

From Wikipedia: The Century Plant or Maguey (Agave americana) is an agave originally from Mexico but cultivated worldwide.

It has a spreading rosette (about 4 m wide) of gray-green leaves up to 2 meters (6 ft.) long, each with a spiny margin and a heavy spike at the tip. Its common name derives from its habit of only occasionally flowering, but when it does, the spike with a cyme of big yellow flowers, may reach up to 8 meters (25 ft.) in height. The plant dies after flowering, but produces suckers or adventitious shoots from the base, which continue its growth.

More pics below the fold

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Another one in S. Smith's Mars-like neighborhood

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Found this one on the interwebs

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We had one bloom in our yard. The nasty part is that once the bloom is done, the whole thing just collapses. *Thunk* in the middle of the night in our case. At least the car wasn't under it. You better rent a chain saw to cut it apart, too, 'cause it'll ruin yours with it's tough fibers and wear gloves: the juice is nasty, see the "warnings" section of the wikipedia article. Wish we had known that bit before we tried the cleanup.

Dangit! Its, not it's.
The thing was about 20' high, though. It was one of those like in the last pic. the leaves were about shoulder high, for scale.

My parents have them in their front yard, and there is a Taco Bell here in Gainesville, FL with like three of them. Taco Bell's century plants bloomed last year, and looked like something out of Dr. Seuss.

The leaves have a razor-sharp point on them. I bet you could stab someone with a leaf.

They're all over Southern California. We have at least a dozen in our back yard, resembling the one in the last picture. The flowering is an amazing event: they seem to shoot up two meters overnight.

The "pups" (the seed-bearing fruits on the limbs of the stalk) drop off when ripe, and they're well-suited to throwing. When we were kids my brothers and I seeded the entire neighborhood.

This is, of course, the raw material for tequila. By the way, if you want to get rid of one, attack it from the top down. Just chop it up with a machete.

I wonder why this made me think of Triffids?

By themadlolscientist (not verified) on 19 Jun 2008 #permalink


Reminds me of the 'titan arum' (link above) that I saw a year or two ago. They bloom a bit more often than these do, but the bloom also kills the leaf and sets a new one growing. The weirdest thing about them is the smell of sickly sweet rotting meat that comes from the opened flower to attract pollinating flies. I saw it a couple days after the scent's peak and it was still overpowering.

So, does this mean you are going to rename your website vegatabillogix? ;0 Those plants are pretty spectacular looking. I didn't realize they were the tequila plant.

Be forewarned about this plant! In a drunken mission to collect the neighbors aloe plant parts for another drunken friend, I tried to grab and rip apart leaves of this plant. This plant is evil and will make you itch like crazy. The neighbors were probably sitting in thier living room watching and laughing.

We have one of those plants in our yard. The stalk grew over nite. You would be amazed at the people that would pass by and see the plant and take pictures. A neighbor passing by had decided to clean up the plant so that the stalks could use all the energy.