DPNR: Let Endangered Century Plants Bloom for Next Generation

Agave eggersiana

As the territory’s endangered Egger’s Century Plants enter their blooming season, residents are reminded to never cut the flowering stalks, which are vital to producing the next generation of plants.

“Popularly known as our traditional Virgin Islands Christmas tree, this century plant, along with all of our native endangered species, is a resource we want to be able to protect for our future generations,” Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol said in a press release.

Agave eggersiana is a common ornamental plant and is a native, endemic species on St. Croix. It has a rosette body of thick, fleshy leaves that end in a sharp point and with a spiny margin. These plants reproduce only once every 10 to 15 years by producing a tall stalk that can reach up to 20 feet high, according to the release. The stalk produces bright yellow flowers that are a favorite of bees and other pollinators.

A cluster of century plants in bloom. The stalk produces bulbils that fall to the ground to replace the mother plant, which then dies. (Shutterstock image)

These plants do not produce fruits or seeds, but instead, the stalk produces bulbils that then fall to the ground to replace the mother plant, which then dies, according to the release.

One of the greatest threats to this endangered species is that people unknowingly cut the flowering stalk, which kills the plant before it has a chance to reproduce, said Oriol.

Many Agave eggersiana are now beginning to produce stalks throughout January to March, and it is important for the public to help protect these endangered species by not damaging or cutting flowering stalks, said Oriol.

To report any damaged or cut Agave eggersiana plants, feel free to use the DPNR Tip411app for smartphones or use the website or call the Division of Fish and Wildlife on St. Croix at 340-773-1082, ext. 2203.