Century plant begins flowering in Houston neighborhood

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The century plant appears to be about two stories tall and will only bloom once before dying.

HOUSTON — It’s almost like something out of a fairy tale: A giant stalk growing from the center of an agave plant is stopping residents of a small Houston neighborhood in their tracks.

You may have seen plants like these before, but probably not one this big. The plant appears to be two stories high and it still has not finished growing. What looks like an enormous spear of asparagus is growing half a foot taller each day from the center of a plant.

“They’re related to the asparagus that we buy at the grocery store,” Houston Botanic Gardens Horticulture Director Fran de la Mota said. “If we look at the flowering stem that’s coming up, it actually does look like a giant asparagus.”

The succulent growing to be as tall as the treetops is commonly known as a century plant.

De la Mota said they live somewhere in the range of 10 to 30 years, and they only produce flowers once — right before the end of their lives.

“They bloom just once in their lifetime and then they die after they flower,” De la Mota said.

The plant’s stalk, which can grow as tall as 30 feet, has drawn a lot of attention to the front yard in which it’s planted. Curious drivers stop their cars to take a picture next to the magic stalk before it’s gone.

But if people are waiting to see fireworks once the flowers bloom, they’ll likely be disappointed.

“The flowers are not very showy,” he said. “The show is really more the size of the flower stalk because it is so gigantic compared to other plants, right?”

The time to appreciate this natural suburban wonder is now. The century plant only has a few weeks left before it says farewell.



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