Hatteberg's People - Century Plant About To Bloom: Ed Ward

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

On Hatteberg's People, a plant purchased in 1976 was nearly forgotten until recently when it finally started to grow. Ed Ward lives in Chase, Kansas just west of Lyons where he owns a machine shop and the plant that is becoming an unusual tourist attraction.

"They call it a century plant. It's supposed to bloom sometime within a hundred years," said Ward.

The plant is sitting right in front of the Farley Machine Shop along K-96 in Chase. Ward runs the shop, which repairs oil field equipment, and it is full of all the machinery that you would expect. What you wouldn't expect is the plant sprouting up from right in front of the shop.

"In 1976 I bought it for a Mother's Day present for my wife. We just bought it because it was a little old cactus. They say most of them bloom at 30 years old. This one here is 36, and I didn't know if I would live to see it bloom or not, but I think I might make it."

The century plant is a type of agave. In Mexico, where the plant is native, they grow easily. Once the blooms occur, usually after 30 to 40 years, the plant begins to die.

Ed's plant hasn't quite bloomed yet but the stalk currently about 21 feet tall. The bloom is still a few weeks away. It has come a long way to become this monster.

"When it got warm again, it started growing again probably ten to twelve inches a day."

Ed now keeps a book of his visitors. Busloads of folks have stopped by to see the plant. Motorists are fascinated. In the little town of Chase, the plant has become the tourist attraction.

"There are some people who keep coming back about every few days to check it out to see how much bigger it has grown."

The plant isn't suited for the Kansas climate. Ed kept the century plant in a trailer over the winter so he could roll it into the machine shop to keep it warm.

"If I hadn't had the machine shop to put it in, there probably wouldn't be no century plant."

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