Agave Americana in Bloom
After thirty-five years at the Muttart Conservatory, Beila, the towering Agave Americana plant, bloomed last December. It was a bittersweet moment because agave plants bloom once in their lives—just before they die.
Beila’s remarkable flower stalk first appeared on August 1, 2012 and resembled an asparagus shoot. Growing at an extraordinary rate, the stalk had nearly reached the apex of the Arid Pyramid by September. Thousands of tiny buds began to open in December, revealing countless light-yellow blossoms. Beila continued to bloom until mid-spring 2013.
In March, as growers prepared to remove Beila from the Arid Pyramid in which she had spent her life, they discovered that Beila had left them a gift. Beneath her fallen leaves, Bella had produced five offspring. Beila was left in place for another few weeks to give her babies their best start, and finally removed from the pyramids on May 24, 2013. The circle of life continued with the planting of a new Agave Americana where Beila had been. Currently, her five babies are being nurtured to adulthood.
About the Agave
- Beila, which means beautiful in Spanish, was chosen as the plant's name by Muttart Conservatory growers.
- Beila was originally planted by Muttart Growers James McIvor and Bob Dixon in 1977.
- Although known by their common name of “Century Plant”, Agave Americanas like Beila have a lifespan of only 7-40 years. The lifespan depends on many factors, such as water, light and temperature.
- Agaves are native to semi-arid regions of the United States and Mexico and appreciate warm, dry climates.
- A very popular drink is made from Agave Americana: tequila!
- None of Beila’s flowers produced seeds, as there were no insects in the Aird Pyramid to pollinate them. Something even more remarkable happened, however. In place of each flower grew a “bulbil” or small, identical plant. These bulbils were harvested by Muttart Growers and are being grown in Muttart’s back greenhouses. Potted bulbils are available for purchase at Muttart Conservatory.