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Sun Feb 22, 2015, 11:55 AM

Huge plant that waited 80 years to flower has month to live

Source: AP

BY MIKE HOUSEHOLDER

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- A towering American agave plant that waited 80 years to flower and produce seeds is dying after fulfilling its purpose and will be taken down next month, said its caretaker at the University of Michigan's botanical gardens.

The unusually old specimen has called Ann Arbor home since 1934. It grew to 28 feet tall after a rapid growth spurt last spring that preceded its flowering, which ended last year. Once it stopped flowering, the agave went into rapid decline, which is normal for the species, said Mike Palmer, horticulture manager at the school's Matthaei Botanical Gardens.

"There's really no value to leaving it up anymore, because it's going downhill so quickly," he said.

The agave produced "tons" of seeds, including one pod that contained 86 of them, Palmer said. Students have been picking viable seeds that will be distributed to botanical gardens throughout the U.S. Some seedlings will be sold in the university's garden store.

FULL story at link.



In a Feb. 17, 2015 photo, a 20-plus-foot-tall plant that has lived an unusually long 80 years at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., is done flowering for the one and only time in its life and will be chopped down next month. Matthaei Botanical Gardens horticulture manager Mike Palmer says the American agave will have its 20-plus-foot-long stalk chopped down sometime in March. The agave completed its one-time-only flowering process last year. The agave that has called Ann Arbor home since 1934 started growing rapidly taller last spring, an indicator it was preparing to bloom. (AP Photo/Mike Householder)


Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_FLOWER_AND_DIE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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Reply Huge plant that waited 80 years to flower has month to live (Original post)
Omaha Steve Feb 2015 OP
truthisfreedom Feb 2015 #1
AndreaCG Feb 2015 #2
SeattleVet Feb 2015 #10
Voice for Peace Feb 2015 #11
Major Nikon Feb 2015 #4
herding cats Feb 2015 #17
N_E_1 for Tennis Feb 2015 #3
ffr Feb 2015 #5
Treant Feb 2015 #8
ffr Feb 2015 #9
marym625 Feb 2015 #6
sakabatou Feb 2015 #7
Trillo Feb 2015 #12
Warpy Feb 2015 #13
blkmusclmachine Feb 2015 #14
okasha Feb 2015 #15
LiberalLoner Feb 2015 #16

Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 12:05 PM

1. Are they going to make tequila from it now?

Or how does that work?

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Response to truthisfreedom (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 12:18 PM

2. Agave nectar is great too

Healthier than sugar

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Response to AndreaCG (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 03:04 PM

10. How so?

It is sugar...a standard combination of fructose and glucose, in about the same ratio as the much-decried high fructose corn syrup. Depending on the variety, it may contain a much higher ratio of fructose. Fructose is fructose, and glucose is glucose, whether you are getting it in white sugar, agave, or HFCS.

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Response to SeattleVet (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 03:09 PM

11. I'm not a scientist but my understanding - with honey for example, and I imagine it is true of agave

 

There are other nutrients, enzymes or whatnots which
support the body's use of the sugars, whereas with processed
sugars you lose those essentials. This makes sense to me
primarily because those sugars closer to their natural form
don't affect me the same way refined sugars do.

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Response to truthisfreedom (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 12:26 PM

4. They could make mescal from it

Tequila is a certain type of mescal made from predominately blue agave which is not the same plant as American agave.

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Response to truthisfreedom (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 08:14 PM

17. Fun fact: Anything produced outside of Mexico can't be called Tequila.

A town in Jalisco, Mexico, properly named Tequila, actually holds the patent on the name, but NAFTA also states Tequila and Mezcal as distinctive products of Mexico.

Also, they harvest Agave tequilana - the agave tequila is made from, for tequila production, at around 7-8 years old when their sugars are at a peak in preparation for flowering. Once a plant flowers it's used up its store of sugar/starch to produce the bloom.

I'm an agave fan.


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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 12:24 PM

3. Gonna miss seeing this behemoth.....

We try to get to the gardens several times a year. There's going to be a big empty space there.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 02:16 PM

5. Beautiful how species have evolved traits

In a way it's saying I reproduce in this way because it has proven to work and current natural selection processes favor my way of doing things. True, I may not reproduce as fast as you do, but given where I live and the conditions I've been exposed to for millennia, I'd beat you in the long term if you had the same resources and were presented with the same circumstances I was given.

Just beautiful. I saw one that flowered when I was a child and thought, what a stupid plant.

I wonder if its seeds are sterile for living indoors all of it's life. Probably.

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Response to ffr (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 02:30 PM

8. Probably not sterile

About half of agave species are polyploidal--they have more than 2 copies of each chromosome. So they self-pollinate perfectly well for many generations. Many plants in my garden have been isolated for 5 to 20 generations and are still going strong--but are starting to change.

Research indicates that this species varies, but generally has anywhere from 2 to 6 copies.

Even diploids in plants tend to self-fertilize fairly well, although they do require mixing with other plants every few generations. With generations 80 years long, this one's grand-daughters might need to meet other agave in 160 years or so...

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Response to Treant (Reply #8)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 02:36 PM

9. Thank you for that. You sound like you know your stuff.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 02:17 PM

6. Cool!

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 02:23 PM

7. Are the seeds going to be replanted in the university?

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 03:13 PM

12. We had one of those in the yard I grew up in.

It flowered once after some 14 years or so, it was cut back, and it flowered again a few years later.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 04:20 PM

13. I've seen one in flower here in NM

and they are the weirdest looking things, this huge treelike stem coming out of a rather ordinary sized yard specimen plant and a yellow scrub brush flower head 15-20 feet up in the air.

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 06:00 PM

14. Cool!

 

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 06:15 PM

15. Hence its colloquial name, "century plant."

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Response to Omaha Steve (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 07:17 PM

16. But what a beautiful flower! And surely the essence of the plant will

Live on forever.

My grandfather had a stroke and passed out, less than a year before he died.

He was so upset they brought him back to life. He was angry. "Why'dja have to go and wake me up?"

He talked about how he was in a place with the most beautiful gardens he had ever seen.

He was a farmer all his life, dropped out of school in the fourth grade to work the plow, and knew all about gardens and growing things.

He said it was just so beautiful, and he felt so happy there, and he just couldn't describe it, but he had tears running down his face as he tried, this grizzled old Montana farmer who never cried over anything.

I would like to think the beautiful agave plant goes to the beautiful gardens to bloom forever.

What do you think, Omaha Steve?

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