Out with Agave ‘Mad Cow’, in with Agave gypsicola

Agave 'Mad Cow', a hybrid between Agave bovicornuta and Agave colorata, began to flower in the driveway bed earlier this year:

Agave 'Mad Cow' on May 31, 2020

I waited for seeds, but there were none (being a hybrid, it may be sterile). Hoping for some offsets, I left the dying rosette in place until last weekend when I decided it was time to remove the carcass. Would there be some pups underneath the mess of desiccated leaves?

September 26, 2020

The answer is....no. Not a single one. 

The rosette was remarkably easy to push over since the root had all died.

I saved the very top of the flower stalk for decoration and chopped up much of the rest. However, the yard waste bin was fairly full already when I started so there wasn't room for it all. This is what remains:

Will it all fit in this week's yard waste?

Before I show you what I planted as a replacement for 'Mad Cow', here's a photo of it in better days:

Summer 2016

I bought this 'Mad Cow' from Greg Starr as a 5" plant in December 2013 so I got 7 years of enjoyment out of it. Not all that long, but long enough for me to look forward to something new.

And here is the replacement: Agave gypsicola.

Newly planted Agave gypsicola

Agave gypsicola, not to be confused with the fairly common Agave gypsophila (aka Agave pablocarrilloi), was described just last year (formal description).

Here's a less scientific description from the website of German seed vendor Rare Palm Seeds:
This marvelous, moderately-sized, solitary Agave has been described as a new species in 2019 from a small site in dry scrubland on gypsisols along the Verde river between 1300 and 1600 m in western Oaxaca, Mexico. It is most closely related to Agave guiengola and forms a moderately dense rosette of up to 40 very broad, ovate to nearly rounded, pale bluish leaves that are finely armed with very attractive, small, reddish-brown teeth along the margins. The tall inflorescence is unbranched. Even though locally common, because of its very limited distribution and due to human activities, it is considered endangered in habitat. In cultivation it is one of the most desirable Agave and will easily adapt to a wide range of conditions in warm temperate and dry tropical climates.
Rare Palm Seeds also has a photo of a mature Agave gypsicola taken in habitat. If my ungainly youngster ends up looking half as beautiful, I'll be thrilled!

Photo from Rare Palm Seeds

There are very few sources for Agave gypsicola right now. If you're interested, you can get a 5" plant from Jeremy Spath for $20.

After I'd removed the 'Mad Cow' carcass I had full access to the Agave parrasana next to it, and I was able to clean out all the debris that had collected in its rosette. It looks so much better now!

Agave parrasana (front), Aloe helenae (left), Aloe mawii × globuligemma (right)

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  1. When your new A.gypsicola grows up it will be a stunner. Right now it reminds me of the adolescent Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. Cute but feisty.

  2. I admired 'Mad Cow' and I admit I'm sorry to see it go but of course you found something interesting to replace it!

  3. Oh, my! 'Mad Cow' was nice, but Gypisicola is a stunner. Like the child of an ovatifolia 'Vanzie' and a 'Blue Flame' and will be boldly big, like marmorata.

  4. I remember seeing a video of A.gypsicola in its habitat. It is amazing! Good luck with it.


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