30 Foot Century Plant Set to Bloom in Studio City
The Plant Dates Back to at Least 1972
by Paulie Hart, Staff Writer
An old Century Plant, so-called because of their exceptionally long life, although not 100 years as the name suggests, is set to bloom in Studio City, California. The plant, an agave americana, dates back to about 1972 or earlier. The neighborhood, called Valley Village, has had so much change in the last few years that I couldn’t find any old timers left who might have some information about the plant. Most of the old houses have been torn down for apartment buildings or “mansionized”. A ninety-some year old woman who lived across the street from the plant sold her house last year and moved away. The house was torn down and is now in the process of becoming another apartment building.
The huge plant, which has grown to about 6 feet tall and about 5 feet wide, is at least 50 years old. Smaller “offspring” are growing around the base of the plant. The building where the plant resides is at the northeast corner of Kling and Radford in Valley Village, not far from CBS Radford studios. The building was sold last year to an apartment operating company which is conducting massive re-modeling of the entire complex. One of the things that they did was to cut off all the bottom leaves of the plant, making it look a bit top heavy and it appears to be listing to one side.
Is Plant to Plant Communication Possible?
In addition, gardeners from the company have removed most of the other plants near the Century Plant, including a pretty hedge that blooms little blue flowers. Another huge area of plants was also removed. One interesting thought is that the Century Plant is aware that all of its neighbors have been torn out, as well as the base of the plant being cut away. Has this triggered its final “suicide”, by shooting up a thirty-foot stalk into the air, the once and final bloom before it dies? If the plant feels threatened, seeing its neighbors torn out and being cut itself, could this trigger it’s own final moment? The tall stalk will bloom and spread its seeds out in the hopes of spawning other, new plants. Then it will die.
We hope to see it bloom shortly, but there’s danger for it. In Mexico, some people will cut the huge stalk down before it blooms, and use the soft interior of the plant to make an alcoholic beverage called pulque. Will some night-stalker get to the plant before it blooms? Stay tuned here for the latest update. When the stalk reaches it’s predetermined height, it will bloom out some beautiful yellowish or orange flowers. In a very short time it has shot up to the height of the 2 story apartment building.
The theory that plants can communicate with one another has been derided in the past. But new studies have shown that plants can defend themselves from insects by releasing chemical clouds and this can warn other plants in the area as well. It is entirely possible that plants have a secret system of communication and that they are aware of what is happening to other plants and trees around them. This has huge implications in the agricultural area, and also could have implications on human health as well.
If humans are tearing out plants, and they can communicate with one another, they may release chemicals, not only to defend against insects, but some slight change that could affect the health of humans or animals who eat the plants. Much more study needs to be done in this fascinating area of discovery. Here is a link to a Wired article on the subject, click here. We will monitor the Century Plant in Studio City, and hope that it is allowed to bloom.