The Attack of the 50-Foot… Asparagus

The Giant Asparagus (aka agave americana) is now in bloom in the Plaza de la Concordia. It’s a wonderfully slow process. The flower stem began to appear in April. It looked like a giant asparagus spear mid-May. In early June, it had the look of a branching tree. The “tree” began to bud later that month. Here it is approaching mid-July and the “tree” is in bloom while the plant itself is dying off. The flower spike on this particular agave is, I’m guessing, around 20 feet tall (6 meters). They can get up to 26 feet (8 meters).

A LITTLE PROBLEM WITH PROPORTIONS.  (ON RIGHT) THIS IS 60 FEET? 

My “50-Foot” headline is nothing more than an excuse to mention “The Attack of the 50-Ft. Woman,” which is among my favorite B movies (the 1958 original, not the 1993 remake with Daryl Hannah). Although, to be honest, I did prefer “The Amazing Colossal Man,” (1957) — probably because the guy strode around half naked. Of course, unlike the petite woman who, as the title suggests, only grew to 50 feet tall, “Colossal” grew to 60 feet. At least that’s how big the producers and ad-men said he was — and you know how men measure things. Just so you know, the illustrators’ and movie-makers’ inconsistencies with proportion drove me crazy — even when I was 5.

Although many people call agave americana “century plant,” these plants don’t really live 100 years before blooming and dying, they actually live only 10 to 30 years. It’s not as sad as it sounds. As the plant dies off, it produces “suckers” or “adventitious shoots” (new plants) to take its place. ‘Ours’ already has a medium-sized replacement growing nearby and it’s sending up “suckers” all around.

PLAZA DE LA CONCORDIA, THIRD WEEK IN MAY.
NOTE THE ROBUSTNESS OF THE PLANT ITSELF.

EARLY JUNE.
PLANT ALREADY BEGINNING TO RECEDE.

LATE JUNE, WITH A NEIGHBORING ALOE IN BLOOM (LEFT)..
JULY 9. IN BLOOM. PLANT BASE OBVIOUSLY DYING OFF.

CHECK OUT ALL THE LITTLE “SUCKERS.”

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

31 thoughts on “The Attack of the 50-Foot… Asparagus”

  1. This is incredible! And great post Mitch! You are such a good 'teacher' in how you 'lay things out'.
    I never heard of those movies before and will probably never look them up! lol Didn't they scare the heck out of you ate that tender age? lol

    1. Jim:
      I wrote and illustrated technical manuals in a former life. As for being scared by the movies, I didn't see them until they were playing on TV. So I was probably 5-10 when I watched them. I guess they just weren't good enough to scare me.

  2. I LOVE B movies. The poster on the left resides, in magnet form, on my refrigerator. 🙂

    I also love asparagus, but I can say for sure that I've never seen it grow in tree form! Amazing!

    1. Michelle:
      I love that you've got that magnet!

      The agave in bloom is really incredible to see. Santa Barbara Airport in California had their entry road lined with them. A dozen of them in a row was very impressive. (I sure hope I haven't given anyone the impression that it's really called Giant Asparagus.)

    2. Ha! No, you haven't, but if one ever comes to life and terrorizes a city, the movie version would definitely have the same title as this post! 🙂

  3. I wonder if there is, in Spain, the variety of agave, from which tequila is made? We used a fortified wine from it in San Francisco to make a wine margeurita in our restaurants.

    I am still reeling from the last post. But when someone calls you to see something disgusting..is like someone with a terrorized look on their face, saying "smell this."

    The stock answer should be, "I'll trust your judgment."
    tim

    1. Theaterdog:
      Agave tequilana can grow here, I'm sure, but it's native to Mexico and I don't see much tequila shooting in Sevilla!

      Oh, I've used that stock answer with Jerry often. He's famous for, "Smell this."

  4. I always thought that the concept of a fifty-foot woman to be preposterous. Where on earth would any woman with fifty feet store her shoes?

    Never heard of The Amazing Colossal Chap – I can't believe that Doug McClure didn't play the lead role though!

    1. The Owl Wood:
      Are you referring to Doug McClure the actor from the American TV series "The Virginian"? (He's the only one I know.) I don't think he was the type to take a roll that required him to strut around in a diaper.

    1. Pearl:
      Lots of them in Southern California and the Desert Southwest (and of course Mexico). Don't think you'll find one in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (well, maybe in the Botanic Gardens greenhouse).

  5. Cool plant/tree! I had never seen an agave.
    Love the old movies. I saw the 50 ft woman, but not the colossal man. He brings new meaning to the statement "size doesn't matter".

  6. I bet those movies were playing at the drive-in theater in 1957 when I was dating my first husband… but maybe I wasn't paying attention. As for the giant asparagus… I've always wanted to be in Big Bend Nat'l Park when their version is in bloom…. maybe I should aim for Spain instead…

  7. Reminded me of another movie I used to watch on the Late Nite Movie when I was a kid, but I can't remember the name of it…extra large people, many half naked…hum.

  8. Hi – My first visit. Read your comments over at Yonks. This is incredible: the agave in bloom! Something I have not seen in person. I've always wanted to plant them in our urns, but where to overwinter is the problem. (We have an old Spanish style home.) Thanks for the photos in succession.
    Cheers from DC,
    Loi

    1. Loi Thai:
      Thanks so much for visiting. I just visited your blog and can only imagine what you could do with agave americana if it would grow for you there. Your garden work is stunning! Greetings to DC; we lived in Georgetown years ago… right across the street from the Colonial Dames of America. (I think some of the originals were still alive at the time!)

Share your thoughts and experiences. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.