Century Plant

Agavi americana

Flower stalk may reach up to 26 ft

This native plant has a tall, thin stalk from 10 to 26 feet high that grows from a thick basal rosette of gray-green leaves. The leaves are 10 to 18 inches long with long, sharp, terminal spines and shorter spines along the edges. The stalk can be up to 4 inches in diameter.

Members of the Amaryllis family, century plants take many years to flower, although not a century. The century plant provided Native Americans with a source of soap, food, fiber, medicine and weapons.


The American century plant is sometimes grown in southern California as an ornamental. It is used commercially in Mexico as a source to produce the liquors tequila, pulque and mescal.


Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts at higher elevations from southeastern California, to western Texas and south to northern Mexico.


Dry, rocky desert slopes.

Close up of flower


Yellow flowers composed of six petals bloom June through August. Flowers grow in clusters and face upward at the end of horizontal branches, appearing only near the top of the stalk


Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.



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