Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
Heat makes Leiden plants bloom after 60 years
The Hortus Botanicus [botanical garden] in Leiden was about to take them away. Those four agaves with flower stalks of a few meters high had been around for sixty or seventy years and they had never bloomed. “It’s like they’ve heard that”, says Rogier van Vugt of Hortus Botanicus.
Though no-one had counted on it, they suddenly all four were in bloom, reports broadcasting organisation West. “We wanted to take them away to clean up the cultivation collection a bit for the refurbishment and renovation of the front yard”, says Van Vugt.
The Agave americana, as the plant is officially called, specializes in water retention. The plant is adapted to life in dry areas. The Dutch climate is not good for the agaves, but according to the Hortus Botanicus, due to the continued heat now, they are “very pleased”.
Originally, the plant is from dry areas in Mexico and Central America. The agave is also known to need a long time before it’s going to bloom. Sometimes it takes eighty years. The flower stem can then grow up to 10 meters. “If it is blooming, then that’s an impressive and beautiful sight”, reports Hortus Botanicus.
After the blooming the main shoots die, but there are often small shoots left over. They can be potted and will later become new plants.
In Mexico, the plant is also used for the production of the alcoholic beverage mescal.
West reports today (translated):
The flower stem can grow up to ten meters high, and hundreds or even thousands of upright fragrant flowers will form on the side branches. The flowers contain a lot of nectar. “Bees benefit from that, because it is not easy for them to get nectar with this drought”, said Van Vugt.