In the case of the century plant, it’s name is actually misnomer. Contrary to popular belief, a century plant does not bloom every 100 years. Part of the agave family, a century plant typically lives 10 to 30 years, flowering only once at the end of its life. Other interesting facts include:
- Native Americans used the century plant for food, soap, medicine and weapons.
- The sap of a century plant can be used as a diuretic or laxative.
- The stalk and heart of the plant can be roasted and eaten. They have a sweet yet acquired taste.
- If the flower stem is cut before it flowers, a sweet liquid called aguamiel, or honey water, gathers in the heart of the plant. It can be fermented to produce an alcoholic drink called pulque. Pulque is usually considered a regional specialty in Mexico, yet it is also used to produce another alcoholic drink called mezcal.
- While the century plant comes from the agave family, it is not used to create tequila, as other plants in the family are.
- The leaves of a century plant yield fibers called pita, which can be used to make rope and matting. The leaves are also used to embroider leather, a technique known as piteado.