The American Agave, Or “Century Plant”

This plant is remarkable for its beauty, and grows to a height of twenty to thirty-five feet. It was long popularly supposed to bloom only once in a century; hence the name. Though this is a mistaken idea, the vegetative growth of the plant is many years. The plant produces flowering stems, sometimes several feet in height, ultimately terminating in a large panicle of flowers and dying of the effort. A single plant may produce five thousand flowers, so that the ground beneath is wet with the honey distilled by them. The fiber of the leaves was used by the ancient Mexicans for paper parchment, and is now largely exported for that purpose and for cordage.