Rare plant blooms after 40 years

Image caption,
The agave mitis creates a towering spike when it blooms

A rare plant which has been growing at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens for more than 40 years has finally started to bloom.

The agave mitis has shot up to more than 20ft in the last three months and now its yellow flowers are open.

The Mexican plant flowers only once in its lifetime and is expected to die after it finishes blooming in a fortnight.

Its death comes after being exhausted by efforts to create a towering spike.

Six years ago gardeners at the Botanics had to remove a pane from the glasshouse to allow a previous century plant to bloom.

Gunnar Ovstebo, Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden's indoor horticulturalist, said: "Normally it's just a rosette of leaves, but you could see last year that the heart of it was quite swollen, a sign something's going to happen.

"Before Easter it started, and then went quite quickly and I expected it to be through the roof by Easter time, that's quite normal, but I wonder if it has something to do with the cold weather that it's not got quite so big."

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