AGAVE – Mexican “Aloe” – Maguey – Succulent, not a cactus.
This is the Century Plant, which can live about 35 years. It blooms only once in its life time.
I saw this beautiful specimen at The Tijuana Estuary, which is a large coastal wetland on the border of Mexico & the U.S. The river mouth of the Tijuana River meets the ocean. This wetland habitat is a breeding, nesting & stopover point on the Pacific Flyway for over 370 species of migratory & native birds, which includes 6 endangered bird species.
These are gigantic plants & to me seem like something from a Dr. Seuss book! There were lots of bees around these flowers & the flowers smelled like popcorn!
Agave flowers are edible & can be roasted & chewed like sugarcane. Agave nectar is used as a sweetener. (Now you know what the plant looks like that Agave Nectar comes from!)
The Aztecs used Agave plants for many things. Paper was made out of a paste from the leaves. The leaves were used as thatch for roofs. The fibers were used as cords, thread & the thorns were used as needles & pins. The roots were cooked for food. Fermented flowers were used to make an alcoholic beverage called “pulque”. The blue agave plant is still used today to make Tequila. What a beautiful & useful plant.
Now that I’ve actually seen this plant (& fallen in love with it), I am inspired to paint it more.
Here are a few Japanese brush paintings of Agave Century Plants. This one is painted on Chinese calligraphy practice paper. I think the red grid & lines along with the horse watermark add a bit of interest to the painting.
This Japanese brush painting is done on rice paper, which is paper not really made of rice, but from mulberry trees.
This painting shows a California Quail taking refuge in the grasses growing around the Century Plant & you can see how many bees are visiting the flowers.
Century plants love to grow in the desert. Bats & coyotes visit under the moon.