Walter Mencken 3:39 p.m., June 18
Agaves, or century plants (Agave americana), have been sending up their asparagus-like flower stalks all over the metro San Diego area lately. In warm weather, the tips can rise as much as a foot a day. During summer big clusters of yellow and green flowers should appear on the tops of the stalks, some up to 30 feet tall. After the blooming cycle ends, the spine-tipped, fleshy daggers at the base of the stalk die (after a life of 10 or 20 years, not a century) and the stalk dries up, but suckers usually remain to continue a new cycle of growth, flowering, seed production and death. The smaller desert agaves (Agave deserti), which are native to the western edge of the Anza-Borrego Desert, are now finishing their blooming cycle.