Giant Asparagus (Century Plants) of Eleuthera

When you are on Eleuthera at certain times of the year, you may see something that looks like a giant asparagus but in reality it’s really a Century Plant. Now I used to think that it took a century for them to grow and mature but that would be false too. They are actually a member of the agave family. Unfortunately not of the agave group that is used to make tequila.

Century Plant

Century Plant

Agave Americana, Eleuthera

Agave Americana

Agave americana, common names sentry plant, century plant,[4] maguey, or American aloe,[5].Although it is called the century plant, it typically lives only 10 to 30 years. It has a spread around 6–10 ft (1.8–3.0 m) with gray-green leaves of 3–5 ft (0.9–1.5 m) long, each with a prickly margin and a heavy spike at the tip that can pierce deeply. Near the end of its life, the plant sends up a tall, branched stalk, laden with yellow blossoms, that may reach a total height up to 25–30 ft (8–9 m) tall.

Its common name derives from its semelparous nature of flowering only once at the end of its long life. The plant dies after flowering, but produces suckers or adventitious shoots from the base, which continue its growth.”

Agave set to bloom

Agave set to bloom

As you can see in the photo below, this Century Plant is just starting to bloom and shortly all of the flowers will turn a brilliant yellow. Sadly once the flowers have all turned there is only a short period before the stalk and the plant itself wither away. All those years of growing have culminated in producing it’s asparagus like stalk and flowers. However a new plant will surface and start to grow nearby, thusly starting the cycle all over again.

 

Century Plant Blooming

Century Plant Blooming

This article was published on Thursday, April 6, 2017 in the following categories: Featured Articles

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