"they rode through strange forests of maguey – the aloe or century plant – with immense flowering stalks that rose forty feet into the desert air"
Agave americana in bloom
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeAgave americana in bloom - Credit: martin_vmorris

The maguey, aloe or century plant are common names for the agave, a huge artichoke-like plant found in arid areas of Arizona, New Mexico, southeastern California, southern Utah, and northern Mexico, at elevations of 3,000 to 8,000 feet. The plant, which flowers once, then dies, can live for around thirty or forty years before flowering, hence the name ‘century plant’.