I finally made it out to The University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor to see this “famous” 80 year old plant blooming. I could not capture the entire plant in one picture as it is located in the conservatory with minimum room for photography. This unbelievable plant is a staggering 25 feet tall and has tons of blooms that are starting to bloom from the bottom up. The staff at Matthaei actually had to cut out a pane in the conservatory to allow this plant to grow towards the sky.
See below for a little history of this stunning plant that is related to asparagus – food of course!
This plant was collected during a university botanical expedition to San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1934 and brought back by Alfred Whiting, a U-M graduate student. Apparently, most agaves in nature will bloom in 10 to 25 years. They also have an average height of anywhere from 15 to 30 feet tall.
Is there really talk that visitors will be able to purchase seeds and/or seedlings from this mother plant? You see this plant will die once it is done flowering so it’s legacy must continue on. There is also identical “pups” that grow off the stalk and make it to the ground when the plant falls over during the process of dying. Michael Palmer, Horticultural Manager stated ” They’ll (the pups) root and grow. It’s like the phoenix idea, where it dies, yet lives again when it comes back from the ashes”.
So, if you have time and are looking for a day trip come out to Ann Arbor, see this remarkable plant, tour the conservatory and all of the many gardens and paths – you will not be disappointed 🙂