Sunday, 13 February 2011

It's terminal

Spines that is before anyone worries. One of the characteristics I look for in agaves are the terminal spines. They come in different colours, shapes and sizes and this in one area that I don't have a favourite.

Starting with the coloured ones in which the spines themselves may be uninteresting, but the colour sets them aside.

Some have colour and a twist

Agave Cupreata
 In some the twist gets even more defined, agave potatorums have some of the best twists; it is one of the distinctive features of this plant.

Agave potatorum kisshokan
The plant above just seems to get better every year and has very dark red almost burgundy spines.  Another really good twist is on agave verschaffeltii. 

agave verschaffeltii
It may not be totally clear in the picture but the plant above has great long spines with a really good almost wavy twist.  By this stage we are into the serious spines category.  One of the simplest has to be on agave nigra.

Agave nigra
It may not look much but I love the almost jet black colour (or i guess lack of it) and they are big chunky and HURT when you catch one. Agave nigra has totally straight terminal spines; the following agave is the complete opposite.  I have posted it before as my Halloween post,

Agave titonata
The terminal spines on this particular plant are so gnarly they get caught and distort as they unfurl. It creates some interesting shapes and every leaf is different. While this one looks dangerous the spines are so distorted I never catch myself on them, unlike agave montana which has needle-like spines.

Agave montana
These are so lethal I do actually cut the tips off as otherwise I am forever pulling them out of my legs where they have snapped off and I am sure you can imagine my OH's view on this one! But as vicious as they are, they don't win the prize for the most over the top terminal spines. For that there is only one contender: the agave utahenses family.  There are a few different varieties and they all have dramatic terminal spines, but nothing compares to agave utahensis v. eborispina.

agave utahensis v eborispina (from BCSS show 2008)
Need I say more? 


  1. I love everyone of these!

    Over-wintering an agave in our rental house when we first moved to Portland the best place was in our bedroom, my husbands side of the bed happened to be the sunny one. He ran into those spikes so often he finally trimmed the ends ... it never looked as good after that, but I tried to understand.

  2. i have to confess that i clip spines on my agaves. otherwise, i would be blind at this point. curious how you feel about that. is it sacrilegious or understandable? does it hurt the plants?

  3. DG: I know someone who used to over winter alot of their agaves in their kitchen/dinner. Their OH used to get stabbed 2 or 3 times every morning and I imagine that was one frosty breakfast table!

    LD: I think it depends on your view, it does not hurt the plants at all to clip them off, purely looks. If you look from a distance then you can't tell, but plants you can get up close to sometimes look better fully armed. I have some I clip and others I leave. I must admitt that I am glad I wear glasses as at least I have some protection around my eyes when weeding etc.

  4. Very impressive (intimidating!) A. utahensis--v. eborispina?

    I've nipped all the spine tips off my desmetianas, but only on the one side where they are accessible. The only ones too close to the street.

  5. Thankfully most of my plants you don't brush past, but the ones in pots have to be carefully positioned!