Once upon a time, the lot upon which our home was eventually built was a nursery. I don't remember it; I'm afraid that was during those hormone-riddled years when nurseries were probably one of the last things I had any interest in.
When our home was built in 1979, the builder had the class to keep this enormous Euphorbia specimen
intact and prominent in our tiny front yard. Over the years it has grown, and at this writing its tallest spires are as tall as the roof of our second story. It is often confused with a cactus plant, since we are located in a desert. For those of you who aren't familiar, it is part of an enormous family of plants and a relative to the Poinsettia. Originally a native of the Transvaal area of South Africa, our Euphorbia has a very toxic milky substance that burns your skin terribly should you have to experience it. Someone once told me that during WWII, there were studies to see if this latex, as it is often referred to, could be used in the production of rubbery or latex-like products (however they are made...I am just repeating a story I was told). Our plant has started to sag towards the street, and at this time, we are looking for someone expert (and no doubt brave) enough to know how to trim it back to save it from an undignified demise.
To the right is our Century plant
(a member of the Agave americanus family).
I actually relocated this plant to the corner of the front yard about 20+ years ago. This summer is its swansong.
My understanding is that once this bloom occurs, the entire plant will die (I can only hope...it has caused havoc in our yard), leaving behind a plethora of "pups" for some unfortunate person to try to unearth before this whole show happens again. My neighbor, Eddy, can hardly wait to get his hands on the bloom...it is apparently a material that is lighter than balsa wood and is used, when available, to manufacture the lightest of surfboards. Further proof that one woman's trash is another man's treasure. (At this writing the bloom from this plant stands about another 10 feet taller than our second story of our home.)