July 8 (UPI) -- An agave plant, the plant used to make tequila, has been growing in the Arid House greenhouse at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden for 57 years. After more than a half-century, the plant is preparing to flower for the first time.
Because the plant hasn't put out flowers, horticulturalists at Cambridge have been unable to identify the mysterious plant.
"It's very exciting for us -- it was sitting there quite quietly and then all of a sudden this happened," Sally Petitt, head of horticulture at the garden, told the BBC.
While waiting for the first flowers to appear, the plant's caretakers have been measuring the agave plant's daily growth. Recently, the plant grew almost five inches in a single day.
Though the agave plant is related to the agave species used for traditional tequila production, it probably wouldn't produce a similar liquor.
"You could probably make something with the agave that is currently flowering, but it wouldn't be traditional Tequila!" a botanical garden spokesperson told The Drinks Business.
The plant's flower spike looks like a giant piece of asparagus. Agave plants are part of the Asparagaceae family. Because agave plants are monocarpic, the much-awaited flowering is bittersweet. Once an agave plant flowers, it sets its seeds and dies.
Sometimes, the dead plant puts out new rosettes at its base. Petitt told the BBC she hopes "some part of it will remain."