Agave patonii

Synonyms:

The species name “Agave patonii” is actually a synonym of the name “Agave parryi”. The species name “Agave parryi” has also many other synonyms:

Agave americana var. latifolia
Agave applanata var. parryi
Agave chihuahuana
Agave parryi f. integrifolia
Agave parryi subsp. parryi
Agave parryi var. parryi
Agave parryi var. truncata

Habitat:

Agave patonii or Agave parryi is mainly present in Arizona but it can be found also in southeastern New Mexico and western Texas. It lives at an altitude between 1200 and 2800 meters above sea level. It’s adapted to grow among dry, rocky slopes, in pine-oak forest in often cold climates, where temperature can reach 0ºC and snow is not so rare.

Description:

Agave parryi or Agave patonii is a slow-growing, compact, stemless globose agave. Its greyish-green leaves form a big but tight rosette which looks actually like a bush, reaching an height of 60 centimeters and a diameter of 70 centimeters. This species is one of the most used for ornamental purposes. Each leaf has a terminal, black spine and there are more or less 140 leaves in a rosette. Like every other Agave, Agave patonii is monocarpic: that means that it forms the inflorescence during the last part of its life and it dies after having bloomed. After, more or less, 24-25 years of life, Agave patonii develop a 4 meters tall flowering stalk with bright yellow flowers. Meanwhile, other plants, developed from the same root system, take over the central one, which dies after having flowered. Its blooming season, in natural habitats, occurs in in Summer, from June to August.

Cultivation:

Agave parryi or patonii need a full exposure to sunlight. Unlike other species of Agave, it is tolerant to temperatures below 0ºC if in dry substrates. Water it regularly, more or less every 15 days, using little water. Wait always until the soil turns completely dry before each watering, because Agaves can not tolerate water stagnation. For this reason, the substrate chosen to grow A. parryi but, in general, all Agaves, should be well-drained and pots used should be in clay instead of plastic, to enhance the transpiration of soil. Repottings should be frequent because Agaves can become until 2 meters tall!

Propagation:

Propagation is made through buds or offsets. Offsets can be taken off when they reach an height of 10 centimeters: then it’s sufficient to let the wound dry up for a few days before planting them in a new pot.

Curiosity:

Agave parryi or patonii is important for its traditional use in the production od mescal. Mescal is an alcoholic drink, similar to tequila, obtained from the fermentation of Agave juice. Unlike tequila, which is the result of a double or triple distillation, mescal comes form just one distillation of Agave juice, so it’s considered even more rough and strong than tequila. Also, agave was an important source of food and fiber.

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