WEST ATHENS – So, how hot has it been? Hot enough for a plant that’s native to the Southwest to bloom for the first time since it was planted almost 25 years ago in a garden in rural West Athens.

In just the past week, Maria Corson’s yucca plant has shot off blossom spikes that stand nearly 6 feet tall.

A spokesman for the Maine Cooperative Extension in Orono said the plant was “tricked” by this summer’s hot weather. And the National Weather Service says we can expect more of the same.

“They’re over my head,” said Corson, 83, of the blossoms on her yucca plant. “They’re supposed to be like a cactus — I didn’t think they would even blossom up here. It never blossomed before. It just had those spiky leaves on the bottom.”

Yucca plants are native to the hot and dry parts of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Not West Athens, Maine.

Corson said she is watching the plant as it blossoms, hoping for perhaps some kind of fruit in her garden, which already is flush with flowers, an heirloom apple tree, currants and potted strawberries.

Corson said her yucca plant was a gift from an aunt of the late Elwin Whitman of Athens. The woman was a customer of Corson’s sewing business.

“She liked pretty flowers and evidently she saw a picture and sent for two plants and she gave me one,” Corson said. “I planted it and waited for something to happen. It turned out into those pretty flowers.”

Corson suspects the hot, early summer may have contributed to the sudden bloom.

Jim Dill at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension said Corson may be onto something.

“What happens with a lot of plants like that, very interestingly, they have a cycle within them and they don’t bloom for years and years and years, and all of a sudden you get the right climatic conditions and it brings it out,” Dill said.

“I think (the heat) has just stimulated the plant tricking it, if you would, that ‘Hey I’m back in my native area and it’s time to put out some flowers and reproduce.’“

Dill said the last month or so has been warmer than normal, with below-average amounts of rain, facts borne out by meteorologist Michael Cempa at the National Weather Service office in Gray.

Cempa said the normal high temperature in the Bangor area, where his calculations originate, is 80 degrees for this time of year. Temperatures topped or approached the 90-degree mark this week.

“It’s going to stay warm through the weekend and even into next week,” he said. “We’re in a warm pattern right now and I don’t see that changing any time in the next week or two. We might have to wait until August before we start getting some cooler air back in.”