Friday, December 27, 2013

Agaves at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2013 edition

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) exhibits and interprets the rich flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert. Because it receives rain both in the summer and the winter, it is considered to be the “lushest desert on earth”[1]. The range of plants growing in the Sonoran Desert is astounding, including iconic cacti like the saguaro, but invariably I’m most drawn to agaves.

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Arizona is home to 12 of the 18 agave species native to the U.S. (be sure to read this very interesting article about domestic agaves). The ASDM has them all, plus most species native to the two thirds of the Sonoran Desert that is in Mexico. The ASDM Plant Names Database lists 53 entries for agaves (38 unique species and 15 varieties and hybrids). My post has photos for 27 of them. Chances are I missed the others because they weren’t labeled and/or located in parts of the garden I didn’t explore this time.

Not every agave variety is a stunner. Some are downright weedy-looking, like Agave felgeri or Agave schottii. But many others, like Agave colorata, Agave gigantensis and Agave parryi, are truly beautiful. I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites—old and maybe even new ones.

The photos in this post are in alphabetical order so you can easily skip to a particular species that might interest you.

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Agave americana var. expansa

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Agave × arizonica, a naturally occurring hybrid between Agave chrysantha and Agave toumeyana var. bella

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Agave aurea

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LEFT: Agave avellanidens     RIGHT: Agave gigantensis

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Agave bovicornuta

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Agave bovicornuta

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Agave bovicornuta × colorata

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Agave bovicornuta × colorata

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Agave bovicornuta × colorata

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Agave bovicornuta × colorata

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Agave cerulata var. nelsonii

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Agave chrysoglossa

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Agave chrysoglossa

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Agave colorata

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Agave colorata

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Agave colorata

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Agave colorata

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Agave colorata

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Agave colorata

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Agave colorata

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Agave deserti

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Agave deserti

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Agave felgeri

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Agave gigantensis

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Agave gigantensis

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Agave multifilifera

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Agave multifilifera

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Agave murpheyi

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Agave ocahui

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Agave ocahui

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis

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Agave parryi var. couesii

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Agave parryi var. truncata

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Agave pelona

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Agave pelona

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Agave pelona

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Agave schottii var. treleasei

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Agave shawii

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Agave shawii

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Agave shawii

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Agave shawii

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Agave shrevei var. matapensis

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Agave tequilana

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Agave victoria-reginae

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Agave victoria-reginae

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LEFT: Agave vilmoriniana   RIGHT: Agave parryi
The silver-green shrub is brittlebush (Encelia farinosa).

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Agave vilmoriniana

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Agave vilmoriniana

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Agave vilmoriniana flower stalk with live bulbils

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Agave vilmoriniana flower stalk with live bulbils

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Agave vilmoriniana flower stalk with live bulbils

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Agave vivipara

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Agave wocomahi

While the agave collection at the ASDM is noteworthy, it pales to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Its plant database lists 250 different agave varieties. I’ll put up a separate post or two about agaves at the Desert Botanical Garden sometime in January. In the meantime, I still have several thousand images to go through from my trip.

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2 comments:

  1. I am sad that it had to end...what a fabulous visual inventory.

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    Replies
    1. I'll have many more agave photos from the Desert Botanical Garden :-).

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