Going up?: Brundidge woman seeks to set world record with plant
Published 3:00 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Mary Lee never dreamed that her name could be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. But she surely is excited by the possibility.
Lee’s nomination for the worldwide listing is an agave plant that is towering at 40 feet and four inches on her front lawn in the Clay Hill community. The current world record for the tallest agave is 40 feet but until Lee’s plant has been officially recorded at 40 feet, four inches, the record is “pending.”
“A representative from the Alabama Extension Service is going to come to verify the height but, if he doesn’t hurry up and get here, it’s going to be even taller,” Lee said, with a smile. “They say the more it rains, the taller it will get.”
With rain clouds hovering and thunder rumbling in the distance, Lee was hopeful.
“I’d like for it to get even taller,” she said. “That would be a better record.”
Lee, who has a green thumb, said the agave was given to her by a friend, Betty Baxter. She found the plant interesting and easy to grow but she had no idea that it would sprout like Jack’s beanstalk.
“I’ve had it about 12 years and it looks like a big, mean-looking cactus,” she said. “Some people say they are scared of it and it is kind of scary looking with these long thick leave with thorns all up and down them.”
Lee had been told that the scary-looking plant was a “century plant” and it would bloom in a hundred years. She didn’t think she would be around for that. But, to her surprise, in May, the plant began to shoot up a stem and it kept getting taller and taller and then, it bloomed.
“The plant started to bloom and it had all these yellow flowers,” Lee said. “Some of the flowers have dried up but the ones at the very top are still pretty. But the sad thing about this plant is that, after it blooms, it will fall away and die. But there are a lot of baby plants around it and I’ve already given some of them away. I’ve got some big agave plants all around the house and maybe one of them will shoot up and bloom and I’ll get to see it. But not these baby plants. It will be a long time before they bloom.”
Information gathered about the agave revealed that in Mexico the juice of the leaves will lather in water like soap and the sharp “thorns” of the leaves are used to make pens, nails and needles.
Mary Lee has no plans to make soap or nails from the remains of the plant. However, when it falls away and dies, she thinks, maybe, she should do “something” to acknowledge its passing.