Friday, July 9, 2010

West Tulsa: Home of World's Largest Cactus

Ok, so it may not be the world's largest, but this Agave Cactus is probably the tallest in this part of the country!

Here's the story: The Applebee family of West Tulsa bought a small cactus about 20 years ago.

They were travelling through Arizona, and wanted a small, desert plant. They purchased a tiny cactus, and the salesmen told them it would be a nice plant for the back porch.

But the cactus had other ideas! It outgrew all the pots and finally needed to be replanted in the backyard. Mr. George Applebee kept the cactus alive during the Winter by installing heaters around it.

(LEFT: The cactus leaves are about 8 feet tall. The single stalk really does resemble asparagus!)

For years the cactus looked simply like a thorny, leafy garden fern.

Then this Spring, a single stalk sprouted straight upward. It grew at a rate of one foot per day for 3 weeks!

Legend has it that the asparagus-like looking stalk grows once every 100 years. This stalk then blooms. The leafy blooms contain the seedlings for future generations of new plants. The parent cactus then dies.

The Applebee family contacted KJRH to tell us their story. This wouldn't make the headlines of the evening news, but I thought it worthy of TV time. So I grabbed the video camera myself and shot a one minute story.

One month after the story aired on KJRH, I rode my bicycle to their home. The plant is now blooming as the cactus leaves slowly wither.

Mrs. Applebee (who told me she is 82 years old) chuckled to me, "At our age, we're glad to see it's blooming now!"

(RIGHT: a 6 foot tall Weatherman bicycled out to visit the 30 foot tall bloom. This picture was taken one month after the top two pictures.)


  1. This is a great story. Sad that it didn't make the evening news as I find it extremely interesting that they only bloom once in 100 years and then die. It's a bitter sweet life for the plant.

  2. Edie-- The Applebee family was so sweet to invite me back out to their house. I wanted to share their plant with the world! George

  3. Beautiful cactus I want to have it at home, specially because I can get alcohol of that cactus, if you knew the liquor I can make with that.