The century plant

Agave americana, also known as the century plant, has a rather interesting life cycle. Contrary to its name, it does not live for 100 years, but instead commonly lives for between 10 and 30 years. In its final year of life, it sends up a tall stalk which blossoms with yellow flowers, and the plant dies shortly after flowering. In the foregrounds of this photo, you can see a century plant which has just died, its stalk lying on the rock behind the plant. Behind the rock is the stalk of another century plant, almost ready to flower. Agave americana is native to Mexico and the southwestern United States, though it is now found in many warm climates across the globe. The plants in this photo were located near the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Century plants in the Grand Canyon

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