Agave gentryi – Plant of the Month

This beautiful species is seen in many localities in northern and northeastern Mexico, and appears to be quite variable both vegetatively and in the inflorescence depending on the locality. This species was initially called Agave macroculmis by Dr. Howard Scott Gentry in his Agaves of Continental North America with the type (the plant that the original description was based on) from a plant in the university botanic garden in Palermo, Sicily. This plant did not have the large, fleshy bracts on the stalk just below the inflorescence as seen in plants in northern Mexico (see photos below), and Dr. Gentry dismissed this as a result of the milder climate in Sicily. In 1990, Bernd Ullrich determined the name Agave macroculmis to be a synonym of Agave atrovirens, which occurs in southern Mexico, thereby leaving those plants in the north without a name. Ullrich then proceeded to pay homage to Dr. Gentry by naming this awesome agave after him. If you want to read Ullrich’s original article and to see more pictures, check the agavaceae.com website.

Check out the plants for sale in the online store.

A stout specimen on Cerro Potosi in Nuevo Leon showing the enlarged, fleshy peduncular bracts.

A stout specimen on Cerro Potosi in Nuevo Leon showing the enlarged, fleshy peduncular bracts.

 

Close up of the large, fleshy bracts with the side branches just beginning to emerge in the spring.

Close up of the large, fleshy bracts with the side branches just beginning to emerge in the spring.

Having seen these plants in several localities in northern Mexico, I am starting to wonder if it could actually be divided into 3 subspecies.

First, the form on Cerro Potosí is quite stout with relatively short and super wide, dusty green leaves. The following shots are from Cerro Potosí.

Note the relatively short and super wide leaves with the dusty green color.

Note the relatively short and super wide leaves with the dusty green color.

The leaves are very wide from the base to above the middle.

The leaves are very wide from the base to above the middle.

The leaves are losing their chlorophyll with flowering and turning a gorgeous shade of yellow.

The leaves are losing their chlorophyll with flowering and turning a gorgeous shade of yellow.

The view from near the top of Cerro Potosi is incredible!

The view from near the top of Cerro Potosi is incredible!

Another form found further south along the Sierra Madre Oriental in eastern Mexico is variable with some plants having a more open form, deeper green leaves that are longer and relatively narrower than the plants seen on Cerro Potosí, and others with a denser rosette with deep green leaves. Regardless of the rosette appearance, these plants produce numerous offsets unlike the ones on Cerro Potosí. The next pictures are of plants found in the Sierra Madre Oriental.

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Note the open rosettes with longer, narrower leaves and numerous offsets.

This form has a denser rosette more similar to the plants found on Cerro Potosi, but is surrounded by offsets.

This form has a denser rosette more similar to the plants found on Cerro Potosi, but is surrounded by offsets.

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Finally, there are plants in the Sierra Patagalana that appear to have mixed genes with Agave asperrima. The leaves on some plants are slightly rough to the touch and the inflorescence is more open.

Here is a plant from the Sierra Patagalana with a larger, more open inflorescence.

Here is a plant from the Sierra Patagalana with a larger, more open inflorescence.

 

Agave gentryi 'Jaws' in a large pot.

Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’ in a large pot.

Small plants of  Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’ are available at the online store.

Following, are several shots of plants in habitat. Some show dramatic color as they die while flowering.

Quite a colorful display as the flowers begin to emerge.

Quite a colorful display as the flowers begin to emerge.

 

The dying leaves are dramatically backlit by the early morning sun.

The dying leaves are dramatically backlit by the early morning sun.

More awesome color on a dying plant.

More awesome color on a dying plant.

A lot of variation seen here.

A lot of variation seen here.

 

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3 Comments

  1. PaulVA November 5, 2013

    Where was ‘Jaws’ originally from? Which of the three forms do you think it takes after? I’ve never seen a ‘Jaws’ anywhere close to the size of the Gentryi in these pictures

    reply
    • Greg November 5, 2013

      ‘Jaws’ was originally introduced by YuccaDo Nursery, so I don’t know the origin, but if I had to speculate, I would say it probably came from the mountains south of the Saltillo-Monterrey area and would be more like the plants in the 7th or 9th pictures from the top.

      reply
  2. Rosi January 8, 2014

    Nice pictures.

    reply

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