A common sight in America’s Southwest desert is the century plant. It’s unique. The century plant (Agave Americana) thrives in rocky, mountainous, desert sites. It has dramatic, splayed leaves that grow up to a foot wide. The plant can reach twelve feet in diameter.

But what makes the century plant unusual, as its name suggests, is its long reproduction cycle. For twenty or thirty years (no, not a literal one hundred years), the six-foot-tall plant stands the same height and puts out no flowers. Then one year, without warning, a new bud sprouts. The bud, which resembles a tree-trunk-size asparagus spear, shoots into the sky at a fantastic rate of seven inches per day and reaches an eventual height of twenty to forty feet. Then it crowns itself with several clumps of yellowish blossoms that last up to three weeks.

Like the century plant, many of the most glorious things that happen to us come only after a long wait.

750 Engaging Illustrations.