Last Updated on July 30, 2022 by Guillermina
Read more about agave plants in Arizona and find out who our favorite is.
There are various types of succulents, and they vary in their form and color from cute, tiny bulbous leaves on a stalk, all the way to stumps that appear to be living rocks. When it all adds up and subtracts, many find it hard to believe that agaves belong to this category as well.
Truth be told, at first glance, it may seem that they are more closely related to a large variety of cacti than succulents, however, they are nevertheless one of the most enthralling succulent genera in the world.
Today we are going to say a few interesting things about agave plants in Arizona, so let’s get to the point.
What Is An Agave Plant?
Did you know that there are currently about 270 known species of the genus Agave? Its application is wide and can be used to produce food products, such as agave syrup, or alcohol (mezcal and popular tequila), or it is grown for fiber, to make ropes and various other products.
Agave plants (Agave spp.) belong to the Asparagaceae family. Sound familiar? This is because this hardy plant belongs to the same family to which the common garden asparagus variety belongs. Did you know that this amazing plant family has 2,500 different species ranging from bluebells to snake plants?
If you decide to plant this plant, or come across it during flowering, you will most likely notice a “family bond” between agave and asparagus, as the flowering stem is very reminiscent. As already mentioned, these 270 known species are suitable for cultivation in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 11.
Now we will tell you a few sentences about agave plants in Arizona.
Agave Plants In Arizona
When it comes to agave plants in Arizona, among the vast number of unique specimens, there is one particular, endangered species that we will focus on today in this article. Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the one and only Arizona Agave (Agave arizonica).
Plant Description & Habitat
Arizona agave is a succulent with flattened, globular leaves, known for its size, more specifically 12 in (30 cm) high and 16 in (41 cm) broad. This fascinating plant has a slender, branched flower stalk up to 12 feet (3.6 m) tall that bears characteristic, small jar-shaped flowers. Did you know that it sets the seed infrequently?
According to experts, this is one of those agave plants in Arizona that may be of recent hybrid origin. How is that even possible? In principle, it is very simple, as hybridization within this genus sometimes occurs where the ranges of related species overlap. However, it is important to emphasize that since the day it was first described, the Arizona agave has retained its unique characteristics and is still considered a unique species.
It was found along the stony creek bottoms and atop the granite hills of the New River Mountains, Arizona, more precisely, where Maricopa, Gila, and Yavapai Counties converge. Most interesting of all is that it grows naturally at an altitude of 3,000-6,000 feet (915 to 1,830 m).
We have sad news, according to the results of a recent study this agave has decreased from 19 known populations to 13 or less. For comparison, in 1986 the total population numbered less than 100 plants. Sounds pretty worrying, doesn’t it?
When it comes to agave plants in Arizona, they are most commonly used as ornamental plants in private rock garden collections and are offered for sale by commercial retailers. The biggest danger for this endangered species is actually humans. Why? This is because collectors are mostly unaware that it is almost extinct in the wild, and those who are aware of its rarity, collect it anyway.
Thus, it is a plant that reproduces so slowly that it cannot repopulate the areas from which it was exterminated. Furthermore, we must mention cattle that often eat or break agave stalks. Namely, they are the greatest threat to the sexual reproduction of this plant.
According to research in a field study of 30 Arizona Agave plants, as many as 13 of them had broken inflorescence stems, while on the other hand, only 3 developed to full bloom. Lastly, agave snout weevil larvae use this endangered plant as their host, and deer and rodents enjoy eating flowering stalks and young plants.
Conservation & Recovery
Did you know that Federal laws prohibit that the Arizona agave’s removal or destruction? However, this is theoretically not easy to implement due to the shortening of personnel, and because other agaves may be taken. Finally, by freely cloning and seeding, as well as with cultivated propagation there is a reduction in pressure on wild populations.
That would be it, you are introduced to one of the most beautiful agave plants in Arizona.
In the end, we have to turn to all those growers who are planning to get this desert beauty. These are great feature plants and can be grown in the ground as well as in containers. Since the plants are drought tolerant and perennial, they are an excellent choice for mature arid gardens.
What do you think are the most beautiful agave plants in Arizona? Do you grow them at home? Tell us more in the comment section below.
What Agave Is Native To Arizona?
Agave arizonica is an endemic species, which, as its name suggests, is native to Arizona.
Can Blue Agave Grow In Arizona?
That's right, blue agave can grow in Arizona. This plant is also known as Agave Tequilana and yes, it is used to produce the famous spirits. Best of all, they are quite hardy and require very little care and maintenance.
Are Agave Plants Male And Female?
The agave genus has both male and female plants, accordingly, they reproduce sexually, by seed and propagate vegetatively by aerial bulbils and ground-level basal shoots and rhizomes.
Can Agave Plants Take Full Sun?
Since these are plants that can thrive well in desert conditions, agave plants need plenty of suns and excellent drainage.