Agave that will bloom only once begins to do so

In this June 18, 2014 photo provided by the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens, flower buds are ready to bloom on an American agave plant at the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens)
In this June 18, 2014 photo provided by the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens, flower buds are ready to bloom on an American agave plant at the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens)

DETROIT (AP) — A plant housed at the University of Michigan for 80 years has begun flowering for the only time in its life cycle.

The American agave started to bloom Tuesday afternoon at Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor.

Matthaei spokesman Joe Mooney said Wednesday that the blooms so far are “low-key” with anthers sticking out.

The agave began sprouting up at a pace of 6 inches a day in the spring and now stands at more than 27 feet — so tall that it juts out through an open space in the conservatory’s glass roof.

Once the flowering process is complete, the agave will die.

Before that happens, though, it will produce genetic clones from which Matthaei officials can propagate the species.

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Online:

Matthaei’s agave page

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