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Rare 'century plant' blooms in Bavaria

The Local · 18 Apr 2012, 14:22

Published: 18 Apr 2012 14:22 GMT+02:00

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Experts at the Ansbach gardens have been tending to their agave plant – also known as a century plant - for over 50 years, waiting for the moment when it would flower.

And on Wednesday, they announced that not only was their prized agave blooming but that the flower stalk was shooting up at around 10 centimetres per day.

Click here for pictures of the American agave.

The first agave plant to bloom in Germany was in the same Ansbach orangery, way back in 1626. An American agave resembles an aloe vera plant, but grows a stem up to 10 metres high with big yellow flowers just once in its lifetime.

Originating from Middle America, the American agave is related to Germany’s favourite vegetable, the asparagus.

“When it was measured this morning, it was standing at around 2.80 metres tall,” Jan Björn Potthast, a spokesman from the team that manages Bavaria’s state-owned castles, gardens and lakes, told The Local.

But the impressive bloom of the American agave is also its swan song, as when the flower dies so does the plant. Visitors have up until around the end of May to see it in the warmth of the orangery, after which it will be too big to house indoors and will have to be moved outside.

“It takes skill to get an American agave to bloom,” said Potthast. But he said he and generations of Ansbach experts before him were sworn to secrecy about what they do to get the exotic plant to flower.

Story continues below…

The Local/jcw

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:52 April 18, 2012 by Larry Thrash
I love this plant. We have them everywhere (San Antonio, Texas). No secret to get them to bloom, they just do it naturally.
19:26 April 18, 2012 by franconia
First, 10 ft not 10 meters. Many on St. John, the US Virgin Islands. When dead and dry they are used as Christmas Trees there.
03:38 April 19, 2012 by PfalzFreund

I don't know what it is like to grow one of these in Bavaria or in the US Virgin Islands but here in New Mexico I have had several in my yard that have attained the 10 meter mark. We had a horrible freeze in late 2011 that destroyed a lot of plants but are tending more for great heights!
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