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Agave shawii

Agave shawii Engelmann

Agave orcuttiana Trelease

Agave pachyacantha Trelease

Shaw’s Agave, Coastal Agave

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyAsparagaceaeAgaves, asparagus, hyacinths, and others
GenusAgaveFrom Greek, meaning “noble”
SpeciesshawiiNamed for philanthropist Henry Shaw, who founded the Missouri Botanical Garden

About plant names...

This agave is native to the Pacific coast of Baja California, as far north as the southernmost part of California.

Identification: Rosettes can reach 3' (91 cm) in height and 5' (1.5 m) around. Plants are sometimes solitary, but may produce multiple offsets. Leaves are up to 24" (60 cm) long and 10" (25 cm) wide. Teeth may or may not be present along leaf edges, varying even in a single plant. Like other agaves, it produces a spectacular flower on a stalk up to 12' (3.7 m) high, with branching flowers at the top that are yellow or reddish. The flowering display is terminal to the agave, though by this time the plant has often spread clones of itself.

The flowering spikes remind me of century plants, but century plants are generally larger (with leaf rosettes up to 13' (4.0 m) in diameter). And while this agave is found near the coast, century plants are found in much of Mexico.

Edibility: Sap from broken leaves causes painful irritation or severe dermatitis.

References:

Ingram, Stephen, Cacti, Agaves and Yuccas of California and Nevada, Cachuma Press, 2008, p. 152-153

Irish, Mary & Irish, Gary, Agaves, Yuccas and Related Plants: A Gardener’s Guide, Timber Press, 2000, p. 163

Online References:

Agave shawii at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Sonoran Desert Digital Library

Agave shawii at George and Audrey DeLange's Arizona wildflower site

Agave shawii on Wikipedia

Agave shawii on Desert-tropicals.com

Agave shawii on CalPhotos

Agave shawii at the Living Desert

Agave shawii on Wikimedia Commons

Agave shawii at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Agave shawii (Shaw’s Agave, Coastal Agave)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, CA ID is uncertain

Agave shawii (Shaw’s Agave, Coastal Agave)

2/26/2010 · Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla, CA

Agave shawii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Agave shawii (Shaw’s Agave, Coastal Agave)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, CA

Agave shawii (Shaw’s Agave, Coastal Agave)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, CA ID is uncertain

Agave shawii (Shaw’s Agave, Coastal Agave)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, CA

Agave shawii (Shaw’s Agave, Coastal Agave)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, CA

Range: Zones 9b-10:

About this map...