Century Plant

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York

Centered at the base of the elaborate Victorian-era Starr Family Monument in the Forest Lawn Cemetery at Buffalo, New York, is a century plant.

Many Christian symbols have been appropriated because of the qualities of the animal or the plant are held up by the religion.  The peacock, for example, became a symbol of the resurrection because the feathers on the male peacock grow back each year more beautiful than the year before.  It was a symbol of the incorruptibility of the flesh because of a mistaken belief that peacock flesh did not rot.  Just as the peacock became a Christian symbol due to its natural qualities, so, too, did the century plant (Agave americana).  It was mistakenly believed that the century plant lived to 100 years or more.  Because of that, the misnamed “century plant”, which only lives 10 to 30 years, was adopted as a symbol of immortality.

Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York

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3 Responses to Century Plant

  1. Laurel says:

    May I please use your photo of the Century Plant — on Buffalo, NY monument, in a lecture?

    • Please do use the photo of the Century Plant. Please credit the photo with my Blog name: gravelyspeaking.com. Thank you for following my blog. I would love a copy of your lecture. Is this a lecture that you will give next year at the annual meeting in Franklin, Indiana?

      • laurelkg says:

        THANK YOU! I am putting together a short talk about the “century plant,” “cemetery plant,” Adam’s needle, agave Americana, cemetery yucca, etc., etc. I don’t think there is enough research material to warrant an evening lecture at next year’s AGS Conference, but ??? Maybe it can be combined with other traditional cemetery plantings? Your photographs show two good examples. Not too many of the white bronze examples survive intact, so I am especially grateful.
        I hope to get enough information and photo examples for a Conference presentation about Colonial Revival grave markers, popular following the Centennial. A winter project.
        Thanks again for sharing your work.

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