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Plant Highlight: Agave potatorum

July 2004

Agave potatorum is included in the group Hiemiflorae, whose members are found in southeastern Mexico and Central America. As a general rule, plants in this group have relatively short lateral branches on the inflorescence and tight ball-like clusters of flowers. They typically are winter-flowering, although Agave potatorum is a little earlier than most, with a September to December peak flowering time.

A. potatorum occurs from southern Puebla state down to central Oaxaca, and is quite variable. All its forms are very attractive as garden subjects, though not as cold-hardy as many of the more northerly-occurring species. Our flowering plant is a form with sinuous leaf margins, their toothy appearance being enhanced by the placement of the teeth atop the outward-projecting bumps. This form is often called by the old name of Agave verschaffeltii. In some populations of A. potatorum the branches of the inflorescence are so reduced that the flower clusters are clumped right along the stalk. Our plant, however, has evident branches. Although A. potatorum is most often found in nature as a single plant, this one produces offsets and forms a small clump.