Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Grow, bloom, die: The curious case of Agave Americana

Not so long ago,  I was talking to one of our regular guests, Mrs. Moores about a particular species of cactus and the long stamen that was growing from the center of the plant. I told Mrs. Moores I would take some pictures of it in case when they come again in august the flowering season have already finished.

June 3rd.

June 27th.

July 12th.

July 22nd. 

 Agave Americana in bloom

Originally from Mexico, the agave now grows across the world in similar growth conditions: a sunny and dry climate, and well-drained soil. There are a few of them at the entrance of the Hotel.

Although it is called the century plant, it typically lives only 10 to 30 years. It has a spread of about 6–10 ft (1.8–3.0 m) with gray-green leaves of 3–5 ft (0.9–1.5 m) long, each with a prickly margin and a heavy spike at the tip that can pierce to the bone. Near the end of its life, the plant sends up a tall, branched stalk, laden with yellow blossoms, that may reach a total height of up to 25–30 ft (8–9 m) tall.

In the wild, agave plants flower at the age of between 10 and 25 years. After that, the parent plant will die, but not before leaving behind some genetically identical 'pups'.

In Mexico drinks are made by cutting off the flower head and collecting the rising sap - as much as 1000 litres per plant! The sap is then fermented into a drink called pulque, and can then be distilled to make the spirit mescal (a related plant, the blue agave, is used to produce tequila).

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