KILDARE — Ashley Burns has a green thumb that should have belonged to the Hulk. A century plant has thrived on her property for many years despite her violent attempts to kill it.
“I’ve run over it with the lawn mower and sprayed it with stuff trying to get rid of it because I thought it was ugly,” Burn said.
Burns vehemently resisted attempts to situate the highly durable piece of vegetation in a prominent place at Creekside Farms on Pitts Road.
“Daniel Lambert actually gave that plant to my husband (Jody) and he brought it home,” Burns said. “I told him it was so ugly that I didn’t want it in my yard. He ended up planting it out beside the road.”
Despite its out-of-the-way location, the unwanted century plant still managed to gain eminence. About 15 years after it was planted, it sports a tall spike crowned with flowers. The blooms are about 30 feet high.
“There is an old wives tale that they bloom every one hundred years but they really don’t last one hundred years,” Burns said. “I think their life span is actually ten to thirty years but they do only bloom once during their lifetime.”
The century plant, destined to die shortly after it blooms, is native to Mexico and the United States in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
“I really don’t know how rare it is,” Burns said. “Around here, everybody calls them century plants but the real name is an agave (americana) plant.”
The flowers produce an odor but it is difficult to detect because of their height.
“They are up past the powerline,” Burns said.
Burns said the plant has become a conversation piece among her neighbors.
“They think it’s neat and my boys love it,” she said. “They like to pick on my because they know I didn’t want that plant there.”
After all these years, however, Burns begrudgingly appreciates the century plant, too.
“I’ve done my best to kill that thing but it is determined to be there,” she said.