I have taken many photos of my neighbor's plant since moving to Charleston. It is, or I should say, was an Agave Americana. Often called a Century Plant, the Agave Americana can take up to 100 years to mature, although it usually takes far less. It blooms only once in its life span after which it dies.
I have been amazed & fascinated by this plant & as you can see it has been a favorite of my grandchildren as well. Our neighbors told us the plant was over 50 years old but no one seemed to know for sure just how much older than 50 it was.
I took the blurry photo below from my window last winter during the freezing ice storm we had. Somehow this hot weather succulent, which normally are found in Florida, Mexico & South America, survived that bitter cold snap.
Then last spring I noticed a giant asparagus like stalk shooting up from the plant. Yes, the
fifty-ish year old plant was preparing to bloom.
It took most of the summer & fall for the stalk to mature & actually flower. The Agave Americana produces one of the largest inflorescences in the entire plant kingdom. Stalks can grow as high as 25 feet & can produce thousands of tiny yellow flowers.
I am not certain exactly how tall "our" Century flower grew but it was clearly taller than the three story houses surrounding it. And sadly just as predicted, the majestic old plant collapsed & died after its profusion of tiny blossoms fully opened.
I feel sad each time I walk by the now empty spot where the Century Plant once grew. I miss it. Yet I feel extremely fortunate to have witnessed this amazing & rare feat of nature.
They say that sometimes, but not always, a new plant will appear where the old one had been. So far there is no sign of one but I will keep watching & hoping.
It is wonderful to imagine that perhaps in another 50 years my grandchildren's children might fall in love with another giant Century Plant just as they had done.