PROLIFERATION OF AGAVE
Alexander Usikoff, Togliatti, Russia
In September 2002 when visiting Spain I encountered the interesting peculiarity in Agave. Brought there by Spanish conquistadors agaves occupied local cliffs and other lots of little agricultural use very fast. Mediterranean climate suits excellently for their successful development. Being there especially in September you might come across many dried inflorescences sticking up from large rosettes of Agave americana. The inflorescences reach eight meters in height.
Cliffs covered by overgrown agaves with sticking up inflorescences might be taken for coniferous saplings from a distance. As you know an agave flowers once in lifetime and then dies. Reproduction takes place by seeds and numerous offsets. Usually my route lies through northern regions of Catalonia but in 2002 I decided to advance a little farther to south, in Andalusia, the region around Gibraltar. There I saw proliferation of agave for the first time.
My attention was brought by an agave the inflorescence of which was covered with something green and that was different from other dead blackened inflorescences. When I approached I noticed to my astonishment that it was covered by plantlets with air roots (photo 1 - 2). Some plantlets fell down and successfully rooted near mother plant (photo 3). The other peculiarity was that plantlets grew in pairs (photo 4). I took the pictures of this unique, as I thought, phenomenon but on the next day I came across three such agaves and then again and again. It turned out they are not rare at all.
Later proliferation of other Agave species was also discovered. Hence I made a conclusion that proliferation is caused by some external effect and is non-specific phenomenon. I don't know what made possible this appearance. Perhaps it could be high summer temperature (above +40 C ) and humidity over 80%. When I talked to local cactophyles I found out the phenomenon is not rare in this area but they couldn't explain the reason. In Catalonia and regions near Madrid this phenomenon was never observed.
COMMENTARY: Alexander is an administrator of new site for beginning cactophyles, www.cactusomania.ru.