The University of Washington's Botany Greenhouse is a storehouse of treasures, and never more impressively so than when the Agave parryii is blooming. This phallic giant has been growing at the southwest corner of the greenhouse for many years.
Dave Nicol, a volunteer at the greenhouse, says the bloom is over nine feet tall, and the flower spike is growing 6" per day. While this Jack-in-the-Beanstalk of a species looks tropical, it's hardy to -5 degrees F.
Dave reports that while the main plant will die after flowering, it's produced several pups and there's a backup replacement plant waiting in the greenhouse wings.
This is a plant you have to see to believe. Not only is the bloom stalk nearly twice as tall as I am, but the contrast between the base of the plant and its bloom is such a contrast in every way....
Thanks to Dave Nicol for the photo-