In Canada we're used to plants blooming with the seasons and doing so again year after year. But a plant in a university greenhouse has been waiting for decades to get its moment in the spotlight. The Queen Victoria agave in Ottawa is pretty old and is about to bloom for the first time. And the bloom is such a rare sight to see so it's even more special!

The Queen Victoria agave was discovered in a greenhouse at Carleton University back in August and after about 30 years of growing, the plant is set to bloom soon. 

Despite the long life, the plant has a tragically sad ending. Right after it blooms, it dies. 

"It’s a beautiful finale, a beautiful demise. Amazing too, that it’s putting so much effort into surviving, continuing on. I admire that," said Ed Bruggink, greenhouse manager at Carleton and the one who discovered the plant.  

The Queen Victoria agave is a desert plant named after Queen Victoria, obviously. The plant grows slowly and takes decades to bloom. The one at Carleton is estimated to be at least 30 years old but could be way older than that.

According to Bruggink, some Queen Victoria agaves can live to be 50 years old or more.

And nobody knew that the plant was even in the greenhouse at Carleton. Back in August, something started growing out of a succulent in a greenhouse and Bruggink noticed it immediately and started investigating it. 

He then figured out it was a Queen Victoria agave.

"We looked at photos online and said, whoa, we got something really special here," said Bruggink.

The plant is native to Mexico and is considered an endangered species there

The growth that Bruggink saw in the Carleton greenhouse was the flower spike of the Queen Victoria agave. The spike grows out of the foliage of the plant and can be anywhere from 10 to 15 feet tall. 

When it was during its peak growing stage, the spike in the Carleton greenhouse grew at a rate of 30 centimetres every few days.

The plant blooms from that flower spike. It produces blooms that are green and white and tinged with red or purple. 

"We’ve got to keep it going. This plant is trying to survive and we’re going to help it," said Bruggink. 

And there's another Queen Victoria agave in the greenhouse so maybe in another 30 years we'll be able to see another bloom from the plant and the excitement will build all over again. 


There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.


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