The succulent agaves (family Agavaceae) come from the drier parts of tropical and subtropical America. A long flowering stem, sometimes up to 9 m (30 ft) tall, grows from the center of the rosette of leaves only when the plant is mature. The maturing process may take more than 50 years, earning Agave americana the name of century plant.
Pollination is effected by the long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris sp). The hovering bat pushes its head into the agave flower in order to lap up nectar with its long tongue and picks up pollen, which is transferred to another plant. After flowering, the plant dies.