We pick up the tale of Agave turneri on the afternoon of the first day of my visit to the Sierra Cucapá with cactologist Peter Breslin. I had visited the east side of the Sierra Cucapá twice before, once in March of 2010 with fellow plant nerd Scott Calhoun, and then again in May 2011 with agave nut Brian Kemble. During the March trip, Scott and I did not see any plants even hinting at flowering, but the following year in May, Brian and I saw plants in fruit. Apparently Agave turneri plants will flower in response to good summer rains and was quite sure that this would be the year. The flowering process for Agave turneri is similar to that of A. montana and A. parrasana in that the stalk is initiated in the fall, it stops for the winter, and then resumes as the weather warms.
By all indications the summer and fall of 2013 looked promising for having produced sufficient rainfall for potential blooming in the Sierra Cucapá, so last minute plans were made with the hopes of catching plants in full flower. In reading the original description by Webb and Salazar-Ceseña, it appeared that all specimens were collected on the east side of both the Sierra Cucapá and the Sierra El Mayor, but I had heard that Brad Hollingsworth of the San Diego Natural History Museum had seen Agave turneri on the west side of the Sierra Cucapá, so I wanted to check that out. After determining our approach to the west side, Peter and I blasted down south and made the foray to the mountains. We found all the proper turns and seemed well on our way to hit the west side first, but we hit a long patch of deep sand that did not allow us passage. Curses, foiled again, at least until I get 4-wheel drive!
Enough talk, let’s look at some photos.
After climbing around on the north and east slopes of the sierra, we finally found some Agave turneri in bloom!
I would like to give a big thanks to Peter B. for going along on the trip, and am glad he did not step on that rattlesnake. Too bad I was off photographing Agave turneri in bloom and did not get to see it. On the other hand, I might have been too busy looking up the slopes that I would not have seen it until too late.