Agave Royal Spine vs. Little Shark

Here’s a little mystery that agave fans might find interesting—and that might put everybody else to sleep (that’s OK, don’t feel bad).

A few years ago, Allen Repashy of Xeric Growers introduced a new agave hybrid that had people drooling. Called ‘Royal Spine’, it was said to be a cross between Agave macroacantha and Agave victorae-reginae ‘Compacta’. It had a colorful story (read it here), which contributed to its mystique. Availability was very limited at first and prices were high, but thanks to tissue culturing, ‘Royal Spine’ is now available more widely through independent nurseries. I just received my very own specimen from Yucca Do and it’s a beauty:


Agave ‘Royal Spine’


Agave ‘Royal Spine’

When I received my ‘Royal Spine’, I couldn’t help but notice its similarity to an agave hybrid I bought earlier this year at Green Acres, a Sacramento-area nursery I’ve written about before. Sold as Agave ‘Little Shark’, it is marketed by Proven Winners and was featured by Sunset Magazine as one of “25 plants for a pop culture-inspired garden.”


Agave ‘Little Shark’

According to Rancho Soledad Nurseries, ‘Little Shark’ is also a cross between Agave macroacantha and Agave victorae-reginae.


Agave ‘Little Shark’

Here are my ‘Royal Spine’ (left) and ‘Little Shark’ side by side. ‘Royal Spine’ is greener than ‘Little Shark’ but that could be because of growing conditions (don’t forget that I’ve had ‘Little Shark’ since July but ‘Royal Spine’ just arrived last Friday). If you look at these photos on the Proven Winners web site, ‘Little Shark’ looks more or less the same as ‘Royal Spine’.

120918_Agave-Royal-Spine- -Little-Shark_02

LEFT: Agave ‘Royal Spine’
RIGHT: Agave ‘Little Shark’

While both hybrids have the same parents, it’s too early for me to tell whether they are essentially identical. Does it really matter, you might ask? Well, to agave aficionados it does, but in the grand scheme of things, well, I don’t think it will move the earth one way or another :-).


  1. I see the family resemblance. They're both pretty cute!

  2. I've got a Royal Spine from Cistus, and saw a few choice Royal Spine at Flora Grubb last spring. More recently I discovered Little Shark at Means, our local magic prices/incredibly cheap nursery ($7.99). I just took one look and assumed it was a Proven Winners catchy name (even though they weren't tagged as Proven Winners... course now I wonder why I didn't buy a couple for that price...oh and I love reading the story from your link!

  3. Interesting story on the link but you can see some difference now. Only time will tell if they will end up looking the same but you can never have enough of these beautiful agaves anyway :)

  4. I think you will find that the differences you noted will remain after they are grown side by side. "Little Shark" when very small, starts out with quite a bit of marginal spines, where "Royal Spine" is nearly free of marginal spines from the start.... They are both great plants, and most people won't see a big difference.

    Allen Repashy


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