WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

Widespread with several ornate varieties, this 1–2-foot tall by 2–3-foot wide succulent produces a dense, compact rosette of rigid, thorny, sword-shaped leaves. Agaves grow for several decades producing many offshoots, or pups, then send up a towering bloom stalk and die. This adaptable species, cold-hardy to –10 degrees F., is favored for landscapes throughout the Southwest. Apaches and other tribes roasted the stem heart and used the long leaf fibers for cordage.


FLOWERS: June–August. When mature, the rosette sends up a flower stalk (scape) 10–20-feet tall with 10–40 short branches, each tipped with a dense cluster of tubular 2 1/2–3-inch long (6–7/5 cm) flowers, buds reddish, flowers bright yellow. Fruit is a dry, oval capsule 1–1 3/8-inches long (2.5–3.5 cm). The flowers produce a supermarket of pollen and nectar for insects and hummingbirds.


LEAVES: Rosette with up to 100 overlapping, glaucous, gray to light green leaves; blades 7–24-inches long (18–60 cm) by 2–5-inches wide (5–12 cm), widest in the middle, lined with vicious, cat-claw spines 1/2–1-inches apart (12–25 mm), tapering to a thorn tip 1/2–1 1/4-inches long (1.2–3 cm).

HABITAT: Gravelly limestone, granite soils; desert grassland and scrub, pinyon-juniper, ponderosa woodlands.


ELEVATION: 4,000–9,200 feet.


RANGE: AZ, NM, TX.


SIMILAR SPECIES: Two subspecies in NM: ssp neomexicana tends to be smaller with flat-topped rosettes of blades with evenly tapered tips, while ssp. parryi has a rounded, ball-like rosette of broadly oval blades with abrupt tips. Palmer’s Agave, A. palmeri, in sw NM, has an open (not dense) rosette of narrow leaves and a flower stalk with only 8–28 branches with loose (not dense) clusters.


NM COUNTIES: Common in the southern half of NM in low- to mid-elevation, arid habitats: Catron, Chaves, Dona Ana, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna, Otero, Sierra, Socorro.

PARRY’S  AGAVE

AGAVE  PARRYI

Agave Family, Agavaceae

Perennial succulent

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Landscape specimens, Albuquerque.

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