Dying Agave Stalks

Agaves (Agave species) are common here in southern Arizona, either growing wild at elevations above 4000 feet (1219 m) or as dramatic accents in desert gardens. Once it reaches full maturity, an agave plant will divert its energy resources into producing a towering flowering stalk at the expense of its life. Agaves are monocarpic and will flower only once before dying.

After the flowers have finished blooming and the seeds (and baby plantlets depending on the species) have matured on the flower stalks, the plant withers, browns, and dies. In the process of dying, the stalks can assume interesting distressed colors, like this browning agave stalk with a dusting of violet.

Close-up of a dying Agave flower stalk

This next agave stalk is just starting to die, and streaks of brown are beginning to appear amidst the green.

Close-up of a dying Agave flower stalk

The dying stalk has managed to capture a couple of dry agave flowers. Once the stalk has also dried, Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa spp.) will happily excavate nest holes in its soft, light wood.