alien plants?

July 16, 2023  •  8 Comments

There are plants on this earth that look extremely alien or other worldly.  In my 4 June blog, I featured the yucca, the blooms of which can look quite alien.  But the process by which the agave (in the same family as yuccas) blooms is truly bizarre.

The agave likes heat.  It can grow in desert, high desert, and tropical climates, and many of its species have subdued and lovely shades of verdigris, making them perfect elements for New Mexico gardens.  Below is an image of the plant featured in today's blog two years before it evolved into its alien stage.

Because most agaves have many years on them before they arrive in a garden from their native habitats
 - as many as thirty or more - one can never really know its age or when it will bloom.  So when the bloom stalk appeared one day in a local garden around the corner, and continued to grow literally feet every day, we looked forward to seeing its progress on our daily walks.  This image was made on 4 June.  How much taller would it get?

Just 11 days later, on 15 June, I used a friend's height for scale (Robert says he's just shy of 6') demonstrating how much the stalk had grown.

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Another 15 days later, it had gained possibly another four feet and the bloom pods were starting to reveal themselves. 

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Each one of these branched inflorescences will explode, exposing bright yellow flower parts.

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The images below were made yesterday, another 16 days after the pods started to appear.  The bloom cycle lasts 3-4 months, and happens just once in a lifetime.  New agave-lets appear in the bloom bundle and fall to the ground.  Under the right conditions, they may grow into new agaves.  Which is the point, since, unfortunately, the agave has put its life energy into the process and then dies.  I feel lucky to have witnessed its life cycle.  As you can tell, this agave has not quite finished its presentation.

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Numerous stamens are waving in the breeze loaded with pollen.  The bees had already discovered the newly unfurled pods.

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Hope all of you in the northern hemisphere are able to deal with whatever weather conditions nature presents this week.  Thanks to Debbie & Steve, Marilyn G., TTT, Barbara F. R., Steve, Jean & Sam, and Lawrence for commenting this week.  And thanks to Ann for growing and caring for this agave, and to Robert for giving the bloom stalk scale.  

until next Monday,


a passion for the image©






Bob Speaker(non-registered)
Thank you Ann A for forwarding this to us. Remarkably, we had an agave bloom in our neighborhood here in Corvallis Oregon a couple of years ago. It made it into the local newspaper and we watched its progress daily.. It is an amazing plant.
Steve Immel(non-registered)
Thanks for the tall tale. I didn't know about the fast growing and once in a lifetime agave stock. It's quite incredible. I guess I've never seen an agave in its alien stage. It's quite a story about the lifecycle ending with this amazing last burst of life and the hope that a bloom bundle might beget a new agave.

You are fortunate to have observed and captured so well this bittersweet process and educated us in the life and death on the long-lived agave.
Thanks for the opportunity to stand up for this desert marvel. The photographs are a commemoration to this extraordinary and hardy desert plant.
I love seeing the progression of the bloom stalk, then the blooms and the detail of the blooms. Lovely
Ann Alexander(non-registered)
Thank you, Daryl, excellent photographer, for documenting this alien in my front yard!!
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