Thursday, March 28, 2013

A 1/2 Century Plant

Our 50+ year old Fucraea macdougalii are blooming huge, spectacular, and terminal (the whole plant will die afterwards) flower spikes. Interestingly Fucraea macdougalii bloomed last year at the Mildred Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA.  Today I received an inquiry from what appears to be the owner of another blooming Fucraea macdougalii:

Q.  I have what appears to be a D. draco plant that is about 18 feet tall. It has a single stem with no branches. About 10 days ago, after growing for about 50 years, it started to produce a massive flower stalk on top of the 18 foot plant. The stalk is about 8 inches in diameter and has grown about 10 feet! That's a foot a day. And it's still growing. 
I believe that after such massive growth the plant will die. Do you have any idea what the species of the plant is--and whether it will die after flowering. I could send you a photo in a separate letter if you're interested.


Q.   The flowering is not finished, but the plant sure does look like this.  It's surely at least a close relative.  I'd better buy a tombstone.  This plant is a favorite of mine.  The day before flowering began I accidentally hit a plastic golf ball that landed on top of the plant.  The next day the plant erupted in Jack-in-the-beanstalk fashion.  Even the neighbors noticed. This flower stalk is huge.  I locked the back door so the thing couldn't get in the house.  Is there anything in the literature about golf balls making these plants flower (joke)?  I never disturbed the plant before.  Not in 50 years!  Will keep a close eye on it.  It's an astounding growth rate.  A foot a day.  You guys are sharp.  Thanks for  the info. 
                                                                                      -A not so cheery Leonard    

A. I suggest using social media –set up a Furcraea cam to follow the progress and decline of the spectacular bloom. If you get enough traffic to sell advertising you may be able to earn enough money to replace the plant.  In 1999 an infrared webcam set up to follow the progress of the Huntington Garden’s stinky plant bloom was an early internet sensation. ; )

 Furcraea macdougalii's suicidal blooms at the L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. 

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