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2 plants on CU Boulder campus blooming for first time in 40 years

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — University of Colorado’s campus in Boulder is experiencing a rare bloom of a plant that only shows its flowers once every half-century. 

Agave plants are common in the southwest but are not native to the Boulder area. Several of them were planted outside the campus’ 30th Street greenhouse in 1997. Almost three decades later, two have finally bloomed. 

“They’re very slow to mature. They’re about 30 to 40 years to fully mature,” John Clark, director of greenhouses for ecology and evolutionary biology at CU Boulder, said. 

According to Clark, the two plants began to change on May 12. He believes the unusually wet spring encouraged them to bloom.

“Of course, they have to be fully mature but we think the rain when they were fully mature helped spur them to flower,” he said. 

They sprout a large stalk resembling asparagus, which can grow 6 to 8 inches per day. When it reaches a height of about 15 feet, it forms yellow flowers. 

“Kind of prehistoric looking but … I find them really striking,” Tim Leddy said. 

Leddy is one of a parade of campus and community members paying a visit to the greenhouse to see the agave plants in bloom. 

“Kind of a one-time opportunity so I thought I should probably see this out here and take some pictures before it goes away,” he said.

The event only lasts about a month. Clark expects the two agave plants to begin to turn brown around the end of July or the beginning of August. Following its bloom, each agave plant will die. 

The plants are located outside CU Boulder’s 30th Street Greenhouse located at 1380 30th St. One is located at the northeast corner of the building, near the entrance. The other is located on the south side of the building. 


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