A new instant classic: Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids by Jeremy Spath & Jeff Moore

In February 2021, I showed you a preview of what is destined to become the new go-to book about my favorite plant genus: Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids by Jeremy Spath and Jeff Moore. I'm very happy to share that as of early October, the book is officially out and available for shipping from Jeremy and Jeff. I'll have more info on how to order at the bottom of this post.

This new bible for agavephiles was co-written by Jeremy Spath, agave grower and hybridizer extraordinaire and owner of Hidden Agave Ranch, and Jeff Moore, owner of Solana Succulents, a small specialty nursery in northern San Diego County, and author of four other books on succulents

Like Jeff's earlier books, Agaves is self-published, giving Jeremy and Jeff complete creative freedom regarding the content as well as control over all aspects of production. The result is a sweeping survey of the genus that includes everything from the agaves everybody knows and loves to the most recently described species and even some that haven't been scientifically described and named yet. The 350-page book is lavishly illustrated with 2,000 (yes, you read that right) photos taken by the authors as well as many other contributors, myself included.


While two thirds of the 350 pages are dedicated to profiles of species, cultivars and hybrids, there's plenty of other information as well, ranging from morphology, taxonomy and history, to cultivation, use in landscaping and growing, to propagation and pests. As you can see in the sample pages below, each topic is richly illustrated:

Definition of key botanical terms

Types of variegation

Different leaf colors

Marginal teeth

Bud imprinting

Did I mention there are lots of photos to go with each concept?

A few more topics covered:

The section on agaves for landscaping is based on Jeremy and Jeff's years of experience as professional landscape designers

Propagation is Jeremy's forte as an agave grower

Jeremy has traveled extensively in Mexico and can draw on a huge library of habitat photos


The bulk of the book consists of profiles of about half of the 300+ currently accepted agave species. This ranges from the commonly grown species...

Agave americana

Agave montana

Agave ovatifolia

...to newer superstars...

Agave albopilosa

...to species which, in my opinion, don't get the attention they deserve...

Agave impressa

Agave pintilla (seriously, shouldn't everyone want one???)

Agave sebastiana (I just planted one)

...to the virtually unknown (left) and newly described (right)...

Agave cacozela (left), Agave calciphila (right)

Agave gypsicola (not to be confused with Agave gypsophila)

...to the as-yet-undescribed:

Agave 'Magnifica'

Agave 'Green Bull'


The index on pages 343-346 lists all the currently accepted species, with those included in the book appearing in boldface. It made me realize just how many species there are that I had never even heard of: Agave acklinicola, anybody? Agave muxii or nashii? Agave repandarevoluta or sobolifera? Agave willidingii or zapopanensis? Many of these are tropical species from the Caribbean and Central and northern South America. Few of us are likely to ever encounter them in person.

A smaller section is dedicated to named hybrids and cultivars, including ever-popular favorites such as  the many blue's ('Blue Flame', 'Blue Glow', 'Blue Ember', 'Blue Emperor'), 'Cornelius', 'Kichi(j)okan', 'Mr Ripple' etc.:




Another section shows some new hybrids created by Jeremy Spath, Kelly Griffin, and Brian Kemble. Most of them aren't available for purchase (yet), but it's exciting to see what's being developed for introduction down the line.



The book ends with a brief look at mangaves, bigeneric crosses between agaves and manfredas. The authors don't go into great detail, but they include photos of the most popular varieties.



Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids joins the ranks of other books on what is arguably the most ornamental genus of succulents. Howard Scott Gentry's The Agaves of Continental North America is still the definitive botanical reference even 39 years after publication, but the language is scholarly and dry and the reproduction of the black-and-white photos is terrible. Jim Pilbeam's A Gallery of Agaves features photos of rare species no other book has, but quite a few images are unimpressive. Greg Starr's Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers is easy-to-read and has great photos and valuable cultivation information but its scope is more limited than Jeremy's and Jeff's book and it's now out of print.

All things considered, Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids is the most approachable agave book on the market and also the most fun. The writing style of both authors is relaxed and casual, and they don't take themselves too seriously. Above all, they want to share the love and get readers excited about agaves. 

The 2,000 images in the book work wonders in this regard. If, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, then 2,000 pictures are worth 2,000,000 words. That's an impressive amount of lexical savings! Personally, I'll gladly take a photo like this...

Agave filifera from Jeremy and Jeff's book

...over this any day:
Description of Agave filifera in Howard Scott Gentry's The Agaves of Continental North America 


How to buy:

Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids is available from Jeremy Spath and Jeff Moore. You can order directly from their websites:
The softcover edition is $39.99. A hardcover edition (limited print run) is available for $59.99.

If you're interested in getting a copy, please order from either Jeremy or Jeff. Since this a self-published book—a labor of love, really—buying directly from the authors ensures that they receive maximum compensation for their efforts.


NOTE: All images in the spreads above are © by their respective owners and may not be reproduced without written permission. All rights reserved by the copyright holders.


© Gerhard Bock, 2021. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.

Comments

  1. Bought a copy for me personally and a copy for the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society. Such a wonderful book!

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  2. Great to see such a comprehensive book on Agaves with excellent photos. Howard Gentry would be pleased.

    That cover picture is a beauty! Did you take that one?

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    1. I agree, Gentry would be pleased! When his book came out, the technology for cost-effective high-quality color reproduction didn't exist.

      I wish the cover photo were mine. It's a stunner!

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  3. I just want to get a copy, curl up in a comfy chair and devour this book from cover to cover!

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    Replies
    1. YESSSS! It's that kind of book. Lots and lots and lots of awesome photos.

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  4. Got mine yesterday and am loving it.

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  5. What a stunning book. It looks like a must have for collectors. Where would you recommend to purchase? Thanks.
    James

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