Sunday, November 9, 2008

Octopus Agave

Agave vilmoriniana

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.


beckie said...

Aiyana, no teeth? That's my kind of Agave. Although, I have always been fascinated by the species. The one on your property line is a very nice specimen and will one day really add to both your properties. However! I'm with you one the others. How awful to do that to a plant. Another case of inappropriate planting by contracters or the like.

Tira said...

I have a small Agave vilmoriniana i picked up in San Francisco. I do like the color and shape. i am a big agave fan. Its a pity they did such a hack job with the ones along the sidewalk

Claude said...

I've never understood why people try to turn agave into palm trees... but I guess that if those weren't pruned back, they wouldn't be able to use the sidewalk. Really, they should remove them and plant something else... I've always liked this species, but here the winters did a little too low in temp for them. They'll survive, but with seriously ugly cold damage.

Julie said...

I actually like the pineapple look!

kate smudges said...

Your neighbour's Agave looks so much better than the ones along the public walkway. They look terrible (Garden-wise guy might want to add them to his list of eyesore!!) I can't imagine having Agave growing outdoors. How wonderful it would be though!!

Have a good week.

Rock rose said...

I think the pruned agaves do look like pineapples but the one on the right does look like an octopus. I am a little confused by how the agaves reproduce. Recently I received some some propagules from a flower stalk of an agave. It would seem that some have the candelabra flower and others have a long flower stalk with lots of babies along the length of the stalk. Not sure I understand the difference.

Laura Z said...

They do look like pineapples! I never undestand why people don't plan ahead. The plants need one of those 'Murdered by Homeowner' signs.

Aiyana said...

Thanks for the comments. I never cease to be amazed at the planting choices and landscape maintenance errors that cities, counties and private companies pay for!

You've said that before. Must be a Florida thing!

Lancashire Rose,
See my post,

for an explanation on the different types of agave stalks. There are actually 3 kinds, depending on species.

Jenn said...

Ugh. Butcher pruning. I will never figure out why they plant so close to cars and walkways...

Another miserable plant they do this to is the Hesperaloes/ Red Aloes.

Nothing could look more ridiculous than the normally elegant Hesperaloe chopped back into some kind of pincushion.

Sigh. Idjits.