Cenizo Journal Winter 2023 - Page 10

AGAVE ANOMALYby Shari Tripp

Close of up panicle
On September 2 , 2022 , I was visiting the roadside pullout off Hwy 90 about 5.6 miles west of Alpine when I noticed an agave that had put up a stalk and bloomed . The leaf rosette was dying except for a new , green panicle ( the characteristic stalk of the agave ) of about 44 inches in height protruding upward from between the dying and fresh leaves . Knowing that agaves or Century Plants are typically monocarpic , meaning that they only flower once before dying , I took photographs noting the location and date so I could research the phenomenon . agaves typically put up stalks and bloom between 8 and 20 years of age .
I showed my photographs to Dr . A . Michael Powell , who is the Director and Curator of the Sul Ross Herbarium and a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology of Sul Ross State University . I told him my story and asked if he was familiar with the occurrence of a new , smaller stalk occurring after the original plant was spent . Dr . Powell related that he had not seen this occurrence before and considered it an anomaly worthy of further study . Dr . Powell also identified the agave species as agave americana from my photographs .
Agave is first described by Linnaeus in 1753 . The agave plant has about 27 species in the US , nine in Texas and five in the Trans Pecos . Mexico has a large number of species : over 200 that have been identified , with the greatest diversity of these species found in Oaxaca ( 43 ), with other locations like San Luis Potosi ( 32 ), Hidalgo ( 32 ), Veracruz ( 32 ) and Jalisco ( 38 ). This high diversity decreases moving south into Central America with numbers in Cuba ( 15 ), Colombia ( 5 ) and Venezuela ( 2 ). Agave americana is a cultivated species that is native to Mexico , South Texas , and Southern Arizona . It was introduced into the Trans Pecos and is distinguished from the five native species as it has larger , lighter-colored green to a moderate gray bluish leaves and a taller inflorescence , which can reach 15 to 24 feet . agaves are monocots in the Asparagaceae , Agavoideae subfamily classified since 2009 . It is a plant that is known to produce a flowering stalk only once , although it can produce offsets or pups from underground rhizomes . But a new stalk after
GLOSSARY OF SUBJECT TERMS :
Inflorescence - the flowering part of a plant ; a flower cluster ; the arrangement of the flowers on the flowering axis Monocarpic - flowering and bearing fruit only once and then dying . The term may be applied to perennials , biennials , or annuals . Monocots - Plants with a single seed leaf Panicle ( s ) - a branched , racemose inflorescence with flowers maturing from the bottom upwards ; a flowering stalk Pedicellatte - with a pedicle Pedicle - the stalk of a single flower in an inflorescence Raceme - An unbranched , elongated inflorescence with pedicellate flowers maturing from the bottom upwards . Racemose - having flowers in racemes Rhizomes - horizonal , underground stems Rosette - a dense radiating cluster of leaves usually at or near ground level

10 Cenizo Winter 2023