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Retro Rewind - Posted July 25, 2014 9:17 a.m.
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photo courtesy of Amarillo Public Library archives

Century Plant

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This undated photo shows a century plant reaching dramatic bloom during a Texas Panhandle summer, probably during the 1930s or 1940s. A member of the agave family – the plant’s scientific nomenclature is agave Americana – the century plant is named for its rare summer blooms. Most plants in this species only live 10 to 30 years and typically resemble a spread of dangerously sharp, prickly two foot-long leaves. But once, toward the end of its life, the plant erupts in a bloom of yellow flowers on an enormous spike, which can reach up to 25 feet high. What triggers the bloom isn’t well understood, but it generally occurs after at least 10 years. The cactus-like century plant is highly tolerant of dry soil conditions, making it ideal for the local climate.

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit heyamarillo.com and jasonboyett.com.
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