Agave 'Blue Flame'

Agaves belong to the family Agavaceae and includes not only the genus Agave, but also Yucca, Furcrea, Manfreda and Beschorneria. Agaves are monocarpic plants, meaning they flower once during their lives and die. Seeing a bloom spike on an agave is a bittersweet time: the blooms are incredibly beautiful and unusual, but it marks the beginning of the end in the life cycle of the plant. Some agaves will produce bulbils from their flower stalk, and others will offset or produce a flurry of suckers before the mother rosette dies. If you are lucky, you might even be able to collect some seed after the flowers are spent and the plant produces seed pods.

Agaves were dubbed "New World Aloes" by the first plant expeditionaries from Europe because of their resemblance to aloe plants from the "Old World". Collectors became mesmerized by these bizarre, exotic plants and grew them in their private collections. Many agaves have now naturalized in parts of the European landscape, particularly in Italy and Spain, where the climate is favorable to their needs.

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