Agave parrasana flower stalk comes down

Agave parrasana in the long sidewalk bed is done blooming, and the main rosette is at the end of its life cycle. With the flower stalk leaning towards the street and a chance of rain in the forecast, I decided to do the prudent thing and remove it, lest wet and soft soil combined with gravity causes the dead carcass to uproot itself. Since I have no need for any of the seeds, there was no advantage in waiting any longer.

As the plant starts dying after flowering, the chloroplasts—the cellular structures that contain chlorophyll—start to break down, causing the red pigments in the cells to become more visible. This Agave parrasana wasn't as colorful as others I've seen (especially Agave montana), but the leaves and flower stalk showed some pinks and reds:

While some cultivated forms of Agave parrasana offset heavily (especially 'Meat Claw'), the species is typically solitary in the wild or produces just a few pups. On our specimen, one large pup was visible in the front (see below), and I found a few others tucked away on the far side. 

I wasn't sure how easy it would be remove the inflorescence and the dying rosette. I had visions of having to resort to power tools, but fortunately that wasn't necessary. As you can see in this short video, it literally took no more than 15 seconds to pull down the flower stalk:

With curbside yard waste pickup scheduled for Monday, all I had to do was drag the remains into the street:

Some close-ups of the dried flowers and immature seed capsules:

As mentioned earlier, I found a few additional offsets on the far side of the rosette...

I had to do a bit of digging to get the underground part of the base and roots out

...including a pup that had flowered, too!

I've seen this with other agaves before. It's the result of hormones that trigger flowering in the mother  plant spreading to an offset. Obviously, this isn't desirable because the flowering pup dies as well, but it happens occasionally.

Under the rosette, I found the original tag from the University of California Botanical Garden:

According to this post, I bought this particular Agave parrasana on February 6, 2014. Most of the other plants I purchased that day—Aloe cameronii, Agave macroacantha, Agave ovatifolia, Agave colorata—are still alive in our garden. Unfortunately, the biggest prize, Agave attenuata ‘Variegata’, rotted one winter.

I planted this Agave parrasana in March 2014 in what was then a brand-new bed. Fast forward 7½ years: This is what the bed looked like this past Sunday after A. parrasana had been removed:

Wider view, with the red square indicating where Agave parrasana had been:

After every removal, the biggest decision is to choose a replacement. I'd been going back and forth between various aloes and agaves, and I finally settled on an agave hybrid by Jeremy Spath, owner of Hidden Agave Ranch and co-author of the new book Agaves: Species, Cultivars & Hybrids. It's a cross between Agave ovatifolia and Agave parryi var. truncata that holds tremendous promise. Jeremy calls it Agave ×ovaticata.

Even though Agave ×ovaticata looks a lot like Agave parryi, at least at this stage, it's been growing significantly faster—a trait inherited from Agave ovatifolia. I'd repotted it twice since I received it from Jeremy earlier in the year, and the 6" pot it was in last was completely filled with roots. 

Agave ×ovaticata is a beautiful hybrid, complementing the pale gray Agave parrasana × colorata behind it.

Agave ×ovaticata (Agave ovatifolia × parryi var. truncata)

The ultimate size of this new hybrid is unknown. If it takes after A. ovatifolia, it could become a big one, but I have a hunch it will be more in line with A. parryi var. truncata. Time will tell!

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


  1. Love the new one! I have one of Jeremy’s hybrids too: Agave shawii x isthmensis!

    1. Oooh, Agave shawii x isthmensis is one I want! I hope to make it down to San Diego County again soon.

    2. Yes, it is a beauty! I had it shipped to me here in Phoenix!

  2. I had a feeling that leaning on the flower stock will make a quick job of the removal, thus producing a rather short - but fun video. It was amazing to see the long sidewalk bed in 2014 and now, 7.5 years later. What an eye popping transformation. I'm surprised you leave yard waste on the curb on collection day. No bins?

    1. I was glad removal was quick and easy. You never know!

      We have yard waste bins that are emptied every week. In addition, from October to January we have bi-weekly curbside yard waste pickup where all you have to do is make piles in the street--so much easier than cutting everything down to size so it fits in the bin!

  3. Just before leaving I grabbed the celsii bloom stalk to see how it would withstand wind while I was away — it came clean off with very little effort! That new hybrid does look promising!

    1. Your celsii flower stalk must have been completely dried out to come out so easily.

  4. When you sent me the link to your video last weekend I shared it with Andrew, he thought you should save the dried plant and it's flower stalk in a corner of your back garden. I told him it was probably destined for the street.

    I can't believe it's been 7 and a half years since you planted that bed outside the fence. Good lord but time flies! (when you're old). Oh and yes to Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw' off-setting! My plant is about 6-7" around and it's already got two pups forming.

  5. Well, given your current rain forecast, removing that bloom stalk was indeed an excellent decision! I remember how nervous I was that my 2 blooming Agave desmettiana would come down on a neighbor's passing car...The new agave hybrid is beautiful and I look forward to seeing it grow up.

  6. That curbside yard waste pickup is a deal! I wish we had that here. Your new hybrid is a beauty--looking forward to seeing how it grows and matures (eventually).

    I've been having a lot of trouble posting comments. Trying again...have been giving up on a lot.


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