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Bloom Then Doom: Giant Agave Flowers At Dallas Arboretum, But Will Soon Die

The Dallas Arboretum is full of life right now; bright blossoms, busy honeybees and one plant that stands out above the rest.

It’s a crazy cycle of life, and death, for the Queen Victoria Agave.

Most kids at the Children’s Adventure Garden are there for the playgrounds, water toys and games. Even the youngest guests can’t help but admire the towering Queen Victoria Agave.

“It’s very tall and kind of spiny and looks a little prickly,” says 10-year-old Emily Bayliss.

Emily and Elena are about 4'8'' and 4'2'' respectively.

She was stunned to learn the plant was actually 20 years old, and it’s skinny flower stalk stands over 15 feet tall.

“It’s pretty cool that it can live than long and grow so high,” she says.

What’s also cool is the agave is flowering, something it only does once. What’s not so cool? After the bloom, comes doom. Take it from Horticulture Manager Kevin Wiley.

“As soon as the flowers are all finished, those that are pollinated will go to seed and then it will also produce some adventitious pups, that means the little baby plants that form along the flower stem. And then the mother plant dies,” Wiley says.

As in dries out, turns brown and keels over. The good news is, they’ll be able to re-plant a lot of its seeds, so the legacy will live on.

“I’m just a nerd about these kind of plants and so when I saw this one start to bloom I knew it was something special,” says Wiley.

The agave will only bloom for another week or two. So if you want to see it before it starts to wither, the clock is ticking.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.