Jackie Flournoy was looking out of her window one May morning in Luthersville, Ga. when she noticed she had a 25-foot flower stalk in her front yard.
I always thought nobody else has this but me, said Jackie when asked about her agave plant.
She planted it in 1987 and never in her wildest dreams could she imagine that it would grow to be this unusual spectacle.
This plant is Agave americana – the century plant. But even though its lifespan is long, it isn’t 100 years. Rather, this plant can get between 25-45 years old.
It only blooms once in its lifetime, producing the tall stem before it dies. It carries gorgeous yellow flowers that appear in summertime, making the stalk a true spectacle.
But the sheer size of this flower stalk is something to remember.
I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it, commented Fluornoy, and we have to agree. Experts in the field know that this plant can get around 20 feet tall, but seeing it in person is something that can baffle anyone. (1)
And to make matters more interesting, this agave isn’t native to Georgia. Fluornoy noticed the native range of agave: Mexico, Southern California, South America, but they never mentioned Georgia, and I have to agree.
Richard B. Primack, a biology professor at Boston University, mentions that this agave is a rare plant for the region even though it’s quite common in other parts of the world.
It cannot tolerate cold temperatures and is drought-tolerant, which usually means it doesn’t need that much humidity or moisture to thrive.
Therefore, the century plant is a rare occurrence in Luthersville, which makes its 25-foot tall flower stem all the more impressive.
Additionally, it is much harder for certain plants to flower or go through all their stages when they’re not in ideal conditions, but this agave proves that nature works in mysterious ways.
Primack mentioned that agave plants can flower when they get 10-15 years old in perfect conditions, but Luthersville is anything but perfect for these plants. Luckily, the winters in this small town are mild, which is how this plant managed to live this long.
So this, apparently ordinary, cactus sat for 36 years in Jackie’s garden. But in April the short stalk appeared and within a short time it grew 25 feet tall.
It just all of a sudden, it just shot up!
The citizens of Luthersville named it a landmark of their small town and now they’re waiting for it to finally open its monumental flower head and exhibit those wonderful yellow blossoms.
Right now I’m just waiting, commented Fluornoy, and that’s exactly what her neighbors and everyone else following this story are doing.
There are even passers-by and visitors from other towns that come to Jackie’s front yard to take pictures of this giant.
I love the beauty of it, it being unique, different, said Jackie. And it truly is something to admire in the gardening world and outside of it.
I’ve enjoyed it all these years, she said, I guess it’s like part of the family.
We still don’t know whether the plant has flowered since the interview has been made, but we do know that it will be a day to remember when it does!
1. Century Plant (n.d.). UF IFAS, Gardening Solutions.