Plant Highlights

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Plant Highlight: Agave potrerana

August 2003

This species is found at elevations between 5,000 and 8,000 feet in northern Coahuila and Chihuahua, in oak-pine-grassland habitats.  This part of north-central Mexico gets temperatures well below freezing in winter, and this Agave is quite cold-hardy in cultivation, enduring temperatures at least down to the low 20’s Fahrenheit without injury.

A. potrerana belongs to the group Marginatae, but has no close relatives within the group. It is not often seen in cultivation and is hard to find in nurseries, although it was offered by the International Succulent Institute in one of their annual plant lists years ago. The plants are single, with green or blue-green leaves about 3 feet long.  These are reported to be an excellent source of strong fiber.

The densely-flowered inflorescence, which appears in summer, is unbranched and ranges from 12 feet to over 20 feet tall.  Flower color is listed as “pink to red or yellow,” and the bright-red filaments with yellow anthers create a very showy display.  Our specimen at the Ruth Bancroft Garden has buds of a grayish purple-pink color, with the open flowers becoming pink.