What’s blooming right now in the Tucker Mini-Prairie?

white flower

Penstemon sp. formerly in the Scrophulariaceae family, but now placed in the Plantaginaceae family.

yellow flower

Coreopsis sp. found in the Asteraceae family

white daily

Erigeron sp. found in the Asteraceae family

purple flower

Tradescantia sp. found in the Commelinaceae family

And finally, just starting to bloom in the flower bed just to the north of the Tucker Greenhouse, Rosa sp.

red flower

Rosa sp. found in the Rosaceae family

Tequila anyone? The Tucker greenhouse Agave tequilana or Blue Agave is getting ready to bloom!

agave

This is Agave tequilana. Tequila is made from the fermented sap of this plant.  This Blue Agave plant is found in the Asparagaceae family

The Blue Agave is a succulent plant native to the higher elevations of Jalisco, Mexico.  I’ve been watching this particular plant and its emerging inflorescence for some time now.  It is located in the desert room in the Tucker Greenhouse.  Once the flowers open completely, I’ll be posting more pictures.  This particular agave plant is about five years old. The top photo was taken about one month ago.  The photo below it was taken today.  As you can clearly see, the inflorescence stalk is very slow-growing. The flowers have still not opened.  If we were really going to make tequila from this plant, we’d cut off the bloom stalk so that more of the plant’s energy would go to the heart or core of the plant, then, in the twelfth year of this plant’s life, we would remove the heart or (piña).  We would remove the spiny leaves from the plant, then we would heat the heart in order to remove the high fructose sap.  This sap would then be fermented & distilled to make tequila.  I’ve read that one agave plant can make 2-5 liters of tequila.

We will not be cutting off this bloom stalk to make tequila, unfortunately.  We will instead let it the plant bloom, and possibly even set seed. What is interesting about this plant though is that once it does bloom, the plant itself dies. I’ll actually have to acquire a new Agave tequilana. 

If you’d like to see a video showing how the blue agave plant’s heart or core is removed by hand by an actual El Jimador (a farmer who selects and cultivates the blue agave plants for tequila making purposes) click here.