• Shayne Jones

Tiburon Boulevard century plant on verge of rare bloom


This century plant on Tiburon Boulevard, near the intersection with San Rafael Avenue, is getting ready to bloom for the only time in its life. It can take anywhere from 10 to 50 years for the plant to reach full maturity, when its buds develop into yellow flowers. (Elliot Karlan photo)

As cars head downtown on Tiburon Boulevard toward the intersection with San Rafael Avenue, drivers who look to their left will see about a 9-foot-tall stalk that looks like asparagus.


The plant isn’t a giant vegetable, however, or a tree or a cleverly disguised utility pole. This spiny stalk is a century plant, and it’s getting ready to bloom for the first — and only — time in its life.


Over the last several months, the stalk has sprouted small, thin branches near the top with buds on the ends. Those buds will soon open to reveal yellow flowers. After its bloom — the length of which can depend on a variety of factors, including climate — the plant dies — but not before it drops some seeds to the ground, starting the cycle all over again.


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