This beautiful Agave is now in blossom in the garden here, and I am happy to be able to send you photographs of it. This is the first time it has ever blossomed in cultivation, and it has never been seen in flower in a wild state. It is a mature native-grown specimen, dense in habit, and perfectly semi-spherical in form, and the leaves are arranged in spiral fashion with as much regularity as those of a screw pine. The circumference of the plant is 5 ft. 1 in., and it has 268 leaves. Its flower-stem appeared about the middle of June, grew rather fast till it was 7 ft. high, then rather slowly till it reached its full development. The scape is now 10 ft. 4 in. high above the plant, 6½ in. in circumference at the base, or 5¼ in. at a foot above the base; from there it tapers very gradually till near the apex. The flower-spike is exceedingly dense, and 5 ft. 8 in. long; the lower or naked portion, 4 ft. 8 in. long, is prominently marked by abortive flower buds, with, near the base, some bristle-like scales 3½ in. to 4 in. long.
The flowers are regularly arranged in parcels of three, all the three being equal in size and opening together; they are greenish white in color, 1½ in. long, or, including the stamens, some 2¾ in. to 3 in. long.
The first flowers opened on August 3, and they have continued to open in succession, a belt about 3 in. wide opening each day. They remain in good condition for two days; on the third day the stamens wilt and drop down, but the pistil remains erect till the fourth day. On the first day of opening the pistil is not so long as the stamens by ¾ in.; on the second it has grown to be as long as the stamens, but it is not in condition to receive the pollen till after noon of the second day. Although the flowers on some eighteen inches of the spike have already blossomed, none of the ovaries have been fertilized; they are dropping off, but I am rather sanguine regarding those about the middle of the spike. So great is the superfluity of nectar contained in the flowers, that on the afternoon of the second day it often drops from the cups, and the least shake to the scape brings it down in a shower. The main beauty of the inflorescence consists in the dense bottle-brush-like mass of bright yellow anthers. This plant, together with several smaller ones, was contributed to this garden by Dr. Edward Palmer, who collected them in their native wilds--the mountains of Northern Mexico--some three years ago.
He found them growing in a limited and rather inaccessible locality in gravelly and rocky soil some miles from Monterey. In addition to those he sent here he also sent a quantity to the garden of the Agricultural Department at Washington, and some to Dr. Engelmann, the eminent botanist at St. Louis. To Dr. Engelmann he also sent a piece of an old flower stem and some dried capsules which he found upon an old plant, and it was from these specimens in 1880 that the doctor was enabled to describe for the first time the inflorescence of this Agave.--The Garden.