Two Extraordinary “Century Plants” Blooming at CU Boulder

Have you ever heard of a plant that blooms once every century? Well, get ready to be amazed because not just one, but two agave plants, also known as “century plants,” are currently in rare bloom at the University of Colorado Boulder. This spectacular event is capturing the attention of botany enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

The Extraordinary Blooming Process

Agave plants are known for their infrequent blooming cycles, taking anywhere from 20 to 40 years, if not longer, to reach maturity. They are aptly called “century plants” due to the rarity of their blossoms. While admiring the beautiful flowers, it’s important to remember that the plant’s true beauty lies in its distinctive shape throughout most of its life.

An agave plant in the outdoor Western Native Garden is seen in bloom at the University of Colorado Boulder Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Greenhouse on Monday. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

A Testament to Patience and Legacy

These agave plants were planted almost three decades ago on the campus by former CU Boulder professor Allan Taylor, who sadly passed away last year. Taylor, a passionate advocate for the beauty of nature, took it upon himself to enhance the campus grounds by planting more than 100 trees and plants. His dedication and vision have not only brought aesthetic appeal to the university but are now leaving a remarkable legacy behind.

A Moment of Joy and Remembrance

The blooms of the agave plants last approximately two weeks before they wither away, marking the end of their life cycle. Currently, there are two plants in bloom, one standing proudly at a height of 10 to 12 feet, and the other towering at 12 to 15 feet. This display of nature’s grandeur would have undoubtedly delighted Allan Taylor, the man who devoted his life to cultivating beauty around him.

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An agave plant is seen in bloom outside the University of Colorado Boulder Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Greenhouse on Monday. The plant took 30 years to bloom. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

A Passionate Gardener and Language Specialist

Beyond his love for plants and trees, Taylor was an esteemed language specialist and an avid collector of southwestern Pueblo pottery and western Navajo weavings. He was a remarkable individual who left a lasting impact on CU Boulder and its surrounding community. His diverse contributions, such as developing unique plant varieties like “Taylor’s sunburst” pine trees, continue to thrive alongside the agave plants.

A Testament to Enduring Resilience

Despite facing challenges such as hailstorms, floods, and even wildfire smoke, these resilient agave plants have persevered, allowing us to witness their magnificent summation in bloom. Their enduring spirit serves as a reminder of the tenacity of nature and its ability to thrive against all odds. The key to their success lies in their strategic placement in a well-drained mounded area, a testament to the importance of providing the right environment for growth.

A Spectacle to Behold

If you find yourself captivated by the allure of nature and the remarkable story behind these agave plants, don’t miss the opportunity to see them for yourself. You can visit the CU Boulder greenhouse located at 1380 30th St. One of the plants is conveniently positioned next to the parking lot, while the other awaits around the corner on the south side of the building. The beauty of these century plants will surely leave you in awe.

Embrace the Beauty and Legacy

For Boulder resident Liz Jessup, the sight of these blooming agave plants was a must-see. Recognizing the uniqueness and rarity of the event, Liz didn’t want to miss the chance to witness something that occurs only once every century. It’s a reminder that the wonders of the natural world are fleeting and should be cherished when they grace us with their presence.

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As you marvel at these extraordinary century plants, take a moment to appreciate the efforts of Allan Taylor, a visionary and lover of all things beautiful. His dedication to enhancing the campus and leaving behind a lasting legacy has brought joy to countless individuals. Let the blooming agave plants at CU Boulder inspire you to embrace the beauty of nature and the power of a legacy that brings happiness to future generations.

For more information, visit the Ames Farm Center, where nature meets legacy.