Beautiful, yes, but beware …

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As these plants are well defended. As noted by the folks at Succulent-plant.com, most “Agaves (pronounced a-gov-ay) consist of rosettes of thick, hard, rigid but succulent leaves often with marginal teeth and usually with a lethally sharp terminal spine.”

Featured above, is Agave dasylirioides (Dasylirion Agave), a relatively rare prize, about 80cm in diameter, described online as follows:

A small, solitary agave in the Striata group (Striatae) that inhabits volcanic rock cliffs in mountainous areas from 5000 to 7000 feet in elevation in the state of Morelos in Mexico. It has narrow, pliant, non-succulent light gray-green leaves with pale margins that are finely toothed with a reddish-brown terminal spine. This yucca-looking plant with its soft leaves appears friendly but this is deceiving as the finely serrated leaf edges are quite sharp. The natural habitat of this agave has a mild climate, with temperatures rarely exceeding the high 70’s F or dropping below the low 40’s F and receives ample summer rainfall. This makes this plant very much at home in cultivated cool coastal gardens in California where it has even proven to be fairly drought tolerant and has survived light freezes. Plant in full sun to light shade in the garden in a well-drained soil and irrigate infrequently to regularly. It also makes a nice container specimen plant. Agave dasylirioides is apparently one of the more primitive of the Agave – what Howard Scott Gentry called “closest to what I conceive as the most generalized of the ancestral form”. The name Sotol Maguey is a creative common name given to this plant by Yucca Do Nursery; Sotol is in reference to specific epithet ‘dasylirioides’, which means “like the genus Dasylirion”, for which the common name is Sotol, coupled with Maguey, which is the common name used in Mexico for agave. source

 

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These from my garden are nice examples of these lethal beauties. Each is about a half-meter or larger in diameter.

They are housed under a clear deck cover to avoid the rain, as these needs watering only monthly in winter (in Auckland) and weekly in summer.

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And have a look at these spines:

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Here is a close up (click on it to enlarge) – you can just make out a rigid spine pointing straight up at you in the bottom-left corner of the photo:

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More on agaves, see great reference examples here, and here at Succulent-plant.com …

Agave   – Linnaeus (1753)
Greek: agauos = of kings and heros, illustrious, hence noble

Over 300 species of Agave have been described, but only about 200 are currently recognised. Most species are monocarpic, although a few can flower several times during their life. The flowers are “perfect” with both male and female parts. Many species of Agave are bat pollinated and produce musky perfumes as attractants. Others produce sweeter odours to attract insects.

Most Agaves consist of rosettes of thick, hard, rigid but succulent leaves often with marginal teeth and usually with a lethally sharp terminal spine. Prolific vegetative growth and offsetting at the base of the plant or through stolons, usually maintains a clump of plants thus compensating for loss of flowering rosettes. A few species remain solitary, relying on seed production for survival of the species.

The interior of the leaves contains longitudinal fibres representing the vascular system. Agave leaf fibre was used by native Americans. Agave fibre from a range of species is of commercial importance, with the best quality fibre coming from the youngest leaves. Sisal (hemp) made from cultivated Agave sisalana is used to make clothing and rugs.

Carbohydrates stored in the core of several species of Agave were fermented by native Americans to make a beverage called pulque which was used in religious ceremonies. Distillation of a similar ferment made from the developing Agaveflower bud is the basis for modern production of Mezcal. Only if made from the Blue Agave within Tequila, Mexico can the distillate be called Tequila.

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