Sunday, November 9, 2008
This agave is growing in my neighbor's front yard, right on our mutual property line. I don't mind--it saved me the expense of having to plant anything on my side of the yard. It will eventually get about four feet tall and six feet wide, so half of it will be mine anyway.
A. vilmoriniana is used a lot in landscapes and in public places because it has no teeth on the margins and the terminal spines are quite soft. It looks better here in the Phoenix area if it gets some shade, but it will do fine in full sun if one doesn't mind a few sunburned areas.
Octopus Agave is its common name. I guess the floppy, twisty leaves have some passing resemblance to octopus tentacles, but I think that's a stretch. This Agave species does not produce offsets. It reproduces by baby plantlets called bulbils. As the mother plant ages, it will send up a flowering spike that reaches about ten to twenty feet, and then, as if exhausted, the plant dies. The flowers on the stalk turn into seed capsules and bulbils. The bulbils fall from the stalk onto the ground and then take root.
These monstrosities are also Octopus Agaves. They are along a public sidewalk several miles from my house. About 25 of these are growing along a quarter mile stretch of sidewalk. Since these plants get quite large, the narrow space along the sidewalk is not a good location for them. However, even worse is the pruning job. They’ve cut off all the lower leaves to form stumps, and now they look like pineapples.