Desert Museum Part 2: Agaves
You might think Tucson is a paradise for Agaves, and you would be wrong. Agaves prefer higher elevations (5,000-6,000 feet, 1500-1800 M). In Tucson the sun is too bright, the heat too extreme. There is also the Agave mite and the Agave snout weevil to contend with. Generally, the Agaves we saw were not as beautiful and healthy as ones in southern California. The pair of vilmorinianas above were the best I saw. They were living in the all-day dappled shade of some trees. Others at the Desert Museum were not so fortunate.
I've seen splendid, thriving specimens of A. shawii in inland California, but Tucson has burnt this one. Or is that Agave mite damage?
deserti with some shade looked fairly good.
Most of the coloratas also looked good, with banding and leaf-impressons.
A. ocahui also stood up to Tucson. Ocahui is one of the parents of 'Blue Glow' and this apparently is where 'Blue Glow' gets its beautiful symmetry. This one does look somewhat toasted, but it was in full sun, and that it looked good at all in full sun was impressive.
The Desert Museum had several variations on A. parryi, some quite beautiful.
One thing I did notice around town (though not at the Museum) was that most Agaves had the bottom rows of leaves trimmed off. Was it due to dry out, like the one above, or rabbit damage? In my far more gentle climate, Agaves have less of a dried-out lower leaf problem, though trimming seems to be popular, G-d knows why. Trimmed, they look fussed over.
Agave cerulata nelsonii. Haven't seen this one before. This was the most attractive of a group. The rest had more sun damage than this one.
A. pelona--maybe...I'm going by the signs on the plants, which I assume might be incorrect. They had an Aloe labeled as striata that I was 100% sure was not striata.
A. pelona. These generally looked pretty good, even in full sun.
A. murphyii. Nice banding.
A. multifilfera, which can eventually form a short trunk. Nice fibers!
The multifilfera reminded me of something...couldn't quite place it...oh yeah!
We were unable to visit any private gardens in the Tucson area, so a greater variety and more beautiful Agaves are probably out there somewhere, but likely growing best with some irrigation and protection from the snout weevil, the Agave mite, and the sun.
I was surprised, too, that Yuccas looked stressed--sun burnt. In my garden they are even tougher than Agaves.
Well-watered Nolina (?) on the east side of a building, looking lavishly pampered:
The plants that without exception looked to be thriving were Dasilyrion wheeleri. Where ever we went, freshly planted or long neglected, irrigated or not, they looked fabulous.