Our Plants

November 2005 Plant Highlight: Furcraea selloa
Image of Furcraea selloa   Image of F. selloa

The genus Furcraea is closely related to Agave, but it is a much smaller group:  20 species plus an additional variety are listed in a 2001 write-up on the genus. Like Agave, Furcraea has a New World distribution, but its range is a little more southerly. While Agave ranges from the southern United States down to northern South America, Furcraea extends from central Mexico to Bolivia. Both genera also occur on islands in the Caribbean. Both are monocarpic as well; that is, the rosette of leaves flowers only once, putting all its energy into the effort and then expiring. Furcraeas differ, however, in having pendulous flowers, which are always white or greenish-white.

Like most furcraeas, F. selloa is bulbilliferous; that is, many plantlets are formed on the inflorescence after flowering. These eventually fall to the ground and provide an easy means of propagating the plants. The production of flowers is an impressive event:  inflorescence height is listed as “to 6 meters tall” (20 feet), but our plant at The Ruth Bancroft Garden looks as though it may have exceeded this figure.

The large leaves of Furcraea  selloa are green (edged with yellow in the case of our variegated specimen), sword-shaped, and armed with sharp teeth along the edges. Though plants start out stemless, they develop a short stem of up to 1½ meters (nearly 5 feet) by the time of flowering. Though long cultivated and thought to have originated in Guatemala, no wild population of F. selloa has been documented.  

Text and Photos by Brian Kemble

Mission Statement
The mission of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Inc. is to preserve this exceptional example of garden design and to continue to develop its collection of water-conserving plants for the education and enjoyment of the public.
Centennial Celebration
We are celebrating Garden Founder Ruth Bancroft's 100th year throughout 2009. If you would like to get involved in this historic milestone, you can help by contributing to the Centennial Fund or by attending on of our many special events this year.
Grant Funders
The Ruth Bancroft Garden would like to recognize the Quest Foundation for funding our Education Coordinator’s position, and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for funding our Volunteer Coordinator’s position, as well as for their generous support over the years.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden GardenConservancy