Plant Highlight: Agave guadalajarana
Agave guadalajarana is in the group Parryanae, which includes the well-known “artichoke agave” (Agave parryi) and its closest relatives. A. parryi has the widest distribution in the group, from central Arizona on south to the state of Durango in north-central Mexico. The other members are mostly found in adjacent areas of north-central Mexico, southern New Mexico, and West Texas. However, A. guadalajarana comes from several hundred kilometers farther south, in the state of Jalisco. It grows in a hilly region of grasslands with scattered oaks near the city of Guadalajara, from which it takes its name.
The bluish leaves of Agave guadalajarana are decoratively crenellated, with marginal teeth atop the bulges. It is typically a solitary species, and it does not make any plantlets on its flower stalk, so it must be started anew from seed after it flowers and dies. The flower stalk starts to emerge in spring, and the flowers follow in June or July. As compared to the stout stalks of the other species in the Parryanae, those of A. guadalajarana are slender, and sometimes bend to the side at the top. The flowers are held in clusters at the ends of short branches off the main stalk. While at the bud stage, the flowers are light-green with a flush of purple at the tips. When the flowers mature and open, some pale yellow is added to the mix, and the purple stamens emerge.
Not infrequently, Agaves take on unusual colors as the life drains out of their leaves and their energy is channeled into the production of flowers and seeds. Our plant of A. guadalajarana began taking on coppery tones in June, and the first flowers opened in early July. Over several weeks, flowering progresses higher and higher up the stalk.