An unusual sight can be seen towering over Ga. Highway 16, east of Jackson.
An American century plant — also known as Agave americana — has shot up a rare bloom spike at least two dozen feet high in the front yard of Wren and Billy Ward’s home, just east of the Butts County Jail.
The plant has been there at least 30 years, according to Wren Ward, who said her mother planted it along with several others throughout the yard when her parents lived in the home.
Passing motorists have taken notice, she said, and stopped to photograph it on a number of occasions over the past several weeks as it continues to add about 5 inches in height every day or so.
The century plant blooms only once, shooting up a towering, flowering stalk, before dying. According to the plant database of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas, it usually takes 10 years or more for one to bloom, and not much is known about what triggers it.
A number of century plants are in the Wards’ yard, Wren said, and this is the first to bloom.
She said her husband first noticed the bloom stalk poking out above the plant’s leaves in April. Since that time it has grown to a height well above utility lines overhanging the plant.
Wren said seeing the stalk prompted her to learn more about the plant, and is a daily reminder of her mom, Sylvia Johnson, who died in 2012.
“I think she’s just showing me that she’s still here. I’ve enjoyed it so much, and I miss her,” Wren said. “It’s a reminder of her, and my dad. He would have loved it, too.”
She’s not sure how long the bloom will last, or high it will grow, but she’s been thinking about how to remove the stalk once the plant ultimately dies. She’s thankful that it grew vertically, rather than across the nearby highway.
“I’m just thankful that it’s gone straight up, for everybody to enjoy,” she said.