Giant agave plant blooms for the first time in 57 years after reaching 4.5 m, allowing scientists at the University of Cambridge to finally confirm its species
- Buds first appeared on succulent in June, but have now thrived successfully
- Substantial because botanists were finally able to identify the species of the plant
- This flower has both male and female parts, which means that it has to pollinate itself
A mysterious agave plant is flowering for the first time since gardeners started taking care of it some 57 years ago.
The random germs have bewildered staff in the Arid Lands House of Cambridge University Gardens, who have been cherishing the giant plant for more than half a century.
Buds first appeared on the succulent plant in June, but the yellow stalk-like flowers have now thrived successfully.
This is especially important because it has enabled botanists to finally identify the Agave vivipara species of the plant, which grew to 10 cm a day in the summer and became a huge 4.5 m long.
The agave – in the Arid Lands House of the Glasshouse Range – has kept the guards waiting since it first started growing a flower stalk in June. Now it is finally in bloom
The Agave belongs to the Asparagus family, Asparagaceae, and the flower stalk, or "mast", strongly resembled an asparagus spear until the flower sprays began to appear
Agaves are generally called "century plants" because it can take up to 100 years to bloom – this bloom is expected to last a month under the supervision of botanists
Because it belongs to the Asparagus family, Asparagaceae, the plant strongly resembled an asparagus spear until the flower branches began to appear.
In bloom, assistant curator Dr. Ángela Cano has identified it as Agave Vivipara, although this will not be well confirmed until it produces fruit.
This species comes from Mexico and the southern US.
Dr. Cano explains: & # 39; The lower part of the flower structure, or inflorescence, has begun to bloom, but the flowers may not look as pretty as people would expect because there are no colored petals.
The stamens are long, yellow "sticks" (filaments) that end with pollen-covered anthers, these are the male part of the flower. There are six of these on each flower, with a shorter "stick" without pollen being the female part
In the summer the stems grew at a really impressive speed, with an average growth of 10 cm per day to a height of 4.5 m
Buds first appeared on the old succulent in June, but they have now successfully flourished after more than five decades of care by experts at the University of Cambridge
& # 39; In the wild, pollinators are attracted by the enormous inflorescence, the yellow color of the stamens, the scent of the flowers (broccoli-like) and the abundant nectar that they produce. & # 39;
This flower has both male and female parts, which means that it has to pollinate itself.
& # 39; That is why the species is called vivipara, which means that it carries its own baby & # 39; s as mammals, & # 39; Dr. adds Cano.
The stamens are long, yellow "sticks" (filaments), which end with pollen-covered anthers. These are the male part of the flower.
There are six of these on each flower, with a shorter "stick" without pollen, which is the female part.
Agaves are generally called "century plants" because it can take up to 100 years for them to flower. The flowering is expected to last a month.
WHAT IS AGAVE AND WHAT DO WE KNOW?
Agave – pronounced ah-gah-vay – is the plant from which tequila is made. It has also been used as an ingredient in food for thousands of years.
The nectar made from the plant is known in Mexico as aguamiel, or & # 39; honeywater & # 39 ;.
The Aztecs appreciated agave as a gift from the gods and used the liquid from the core to flavor food and beverages.
It has also seen a rise as the sweetener par excellence for the health conscious because of its claimed benefits over sugar – although some experts discuss these benefits.
That includes the higher sweetness than sugar, which means that less is needed to sweeten foods.
The plant is also known as the century plant, because it is thought that it only flowers every 100 years.
However, this is misleading because it usually blooms after 20 to 30 years of storing huge food reserves in its leaves and then dies.
Originally from Mexico, agave now grows around the world in similar growing conditions – a sunny and dry climate and well-drained soil.
Agave is pollinated by insects, nectar-loving bats and hummingbirds.
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