Agave parryi 'Excelsior' does a runner

We have a nice specimen of Agave parryi var. huachucensis 'Excelsior' in one of the succulent mounds in the front yard. It's slow, really slow, but it has beautiful, if subtle, variegation. It's one agave I can't imagine being without.

Like all varieties of Agave parryi, it produces suckers, but most of them are basal offsets emerging in a tight ring around the mother plant. 

But look at the two smaller green circles in the photo:

The middle circle is about 1 ft. from the mother plant, the top circle almost 4 ft. away.

This is what you see at the location of the top circle, i.e. on the other side of the tall Corten steel planter:

Not one, but two offsets. When I first spotted them earlier in the year, I originally assumed they came from the Agave parrasana 'Fireball' nearby (at the top in the photo below):

But now that they're a little older, the lighter central stripe characteristic of 'Excelsior' is easy to see. In contrast, Agave parrasana 'Fireball' pups have cream-colored leaf margins and stay close to the mother plant.

I've been trying to determine why my Agave parryi var. huachucensis 'Excelsior' sends out these long rhizomes in addition to producing basal offsets, but I haven't been able to find any conclusive information. Knowing that it has this tendency, I'll keep a closer eye on this bed. I bet there'll be others! (Update: I just found two more hiding under a mat of Delosperma, about 2 ft. away.)

For now, I'll leave these roaming strays where they are, but eventually I'll harvest them and pot them up. More 'Excelsior' babies to give away. You can't ever have enough of this beauty:

Agave parryi var. huachucensis is found in southeastern Arizona and the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It's named after Arizona's Huachuca Mountains. Variety huachucensis is larger than the species and has more leaves per rosette. The leaves are fairly wide, like var. truncata

According to the Plant Delights website, 'Excelsior' was found in a batch of seedlings at a California nursery, Excelsior Gardens, circa 1967. In the 1980s, the plant was brought into wider circulation by Nature's Curiosity Shop in Nevada. Today, it's available through Plant Delights and is occasionally found at cactus and succulent society plant sales.

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  1. It's a gorgeous variegated agave, it would be wonderful to have a swathe of them :)

  2. That's the kind of movement I would expect from my tetrapanax, not that agave! BTW I would be happy to adopt one of those babies...

  3. I've got several agaves that do that, including 'Jaws' and 'Mr Ripple', both of which I thought are supposed to be solitary. Between those two and 'Mediopicta alba' and bracteosa, I'm going to be supplying pups to neighbors on a regular basis it seems. If only more neighbors would take baby plants - growing them to teenage size takes space.

  4. Sneaky little devils. Nature always finds a way.

  5. It's not 'Excelsior''s fault she likes your garden. :)

    All of the parryi clan seem to be beautiful. I don't remember ever seeing one that wasn't.

  6. How hardy is this Agave exactly?

    1. Agave parryi var. huachucensis is said to be hardy to 15°F. I expect 'Excelsior' to be just as hardy.


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