This Agave is rapidly sending up a towering flower spike in the Arid Lands House.
The genus Agave belongs to the asparagus family, Asparagaceae, and the flower stem, or ‘mast’, of this species Agave heteracantha resembles asparagus on steroids. The mast of all species within the genus emerge from the centre of a basal rosette of succulent leaves which are toothed, or serrated. In this species the rosette is monocarpic, so will produce one flower stem, with the entire rosette dying after flowering. As teh mast extends it will produce horizontal branches which will carry numerous tiers of flower. This species appears to be synonymous with A. univittata, and also A. xylonocantha, and it originates from the Sierra Madre of Mexico, where it grows at altitudes of 600m. In the wild the flower stem can reach 6m in height, so we’ll keep an eye on ours to see if we need to remove any panes of glass from the glasshouse roof.