Scientific name: Agave americana
- Order: Asparagales
- Family: Asparagaceae
- Subfamily: Agavoideae
- Genus: Agave
- Species: A. americana
Also known as American aloe, Agave americana is a large, stately succulent that is native to Mexico and Texas. Its spiny greenish-blue leaves can grow to be around six feet long, but what’s even more stunning is the century plant’s flowers. Although it doesn’t take a full century as the name suggests, you will have to wait a decade or more for Agave americana to bloom. When it does, clusters of yellow blossoms grow from a giant flower stalk that can reach up to 26 feet tall! Unfortunately, the century plant dies after blooming once, as it is a monocarpic plant.
There are several variegated forms of Agave americana, with the photos shown here being one with yellow margins. Another variegation has a central yellow stripe and blue-green margins.
The century plant can be used to produce agave nectar and eaten in various ways. However, when unprocessed or prepared improperly, the sap, leaves, and stalk are poisonous and cause skin irritation. Be very careful when handling the leaves, especially the spikes on the sides and tips, and do not consume any part of the plant raw, with the flowers being the only exception.