The Century Plant – A 100 Year Bloomer

Today’s Belize Photo of the day is the Century Plant and its scientifically known as the Agave Americana. The Century Plant is originally from Mexico but is cultivated as an ornamental plant globally. It has been naturalized in many regions and grows wild in Europe, South America, India, and Australia.

The 100 Year Bloomer

The above picture was taken near the Chaa Creek Natural History Museum.

This plant is the “granddaddy” of all agaves as it is relatively fast-growing reaching up to 6 feet tall by 8-10 feet wide. Its wide grey-green leaves have sharp spines along the margins and tips which yield fibres known as “pita” which can be used for making rope and mats.

The Century Plant, as its name suggests takes one hundred years to bloom. However, if cultivated in warm regions, it may take only 10 years while in colder climates it may take about 60 years. The century plant also uses all of its energy to produce a once in a life time bloom of lovely yellow flowers and after it finishes flowering, the plant dies.

Medicinal Purposes: The sap of the Agave Americana is used as a diuretic and laxative. The juice of the leaves is applied to bruises and can be taken internally for relief of indigestion, flatulence, constipation, jaundice and dysentery. Steroid hormone precursors are also obtained from the leaves.

Interested in learning more about Medicinal Plants? Visit the Chaa Creek Rainforest Medicine Trail to learn more about healing plants  the Ancient Maya civilization used thousands of years ago.

Picture taken by Naturalist Guide: Meshack Eliah

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