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  Agave macroacantha "viridis"

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 Agave macroacantha "viridis" (A juvenile specimen)

This small and elegant, spherical clumping agave forms, 30 cm rosettes composed of, stunning narrow leaves tipped with an impressive black-brown spine. The so called forma "viridis" has paleer glaucous /yellowish/green leaves (while the standard form has powdery blue leaves)


Description: This is a very distinctive small to medium-sized stemless or short-stemmed Agave, it forms, neat, compact, rosette composed of many narrow leaves. In the wild it is a very variable plant, with some populations having large, jet-black terminal spines, some having red-brown spines, some with small spines, some large. It forms dense clumps apparently generated by the multiplication of ground-level offshoots to nearly 60 cm tall by 150 cm wide comprised of 25 to 35 inch wide rosettes.
Leaves: Grey-blue, straight, dagger-like, evenly spaced that radiate straight out from the center of the plant, up to 55 cm long (but usually not more than 15-30 cm) with a thick, stiff, prominent, stright or ondulate, rounded below, 3 cm long terminal spine (white/brown) dark brownish-red to almost black) . The margins of the leaves are very straight (or some time undulate) and have short, contrasting dark brown, serrated teeth 0,5-2,5 cm apart. .
Flowers: The inflorescence is made up of a 2 metre slender stem with 10 to 14 lateral branches which hold groups of purple-tinged green flowers with a fuzzy interior flowers. Often after the flowering there appear “ small bulbs”( already formed tiny plants) which fall to the ground, giving life to a new colony of Agaves. When this plant begins to flower the center leaves take on an attractive reddish hue from where the dark red inflorescence begins to emerge
Blooming season: Spring to summer. The species does not flower as freely as some, the plant needs to be 15 years or better to flower.

Use: These striking plants are wonderful when used for accent or simply to provide some all year round foliage colour and often used in a pot as a patio plant, they make an eye-catching statement and along with other evergreen plants in pots, can be moved around to change the scenery or position to give more shelter.

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Family: Agavaceae

Accepted Scientific Name:  Agave macroacantha Zucc.
In: Flora 15:297, 1832

Common (Mexican) Names include: Black-spined Agave

Origin: Mexico ( Oaxaca and near Tehuacan in Puebla)

Habitat:  Grows in barren rocky and very arid terrain where it grew with Cephalocereus hoppenstedtii, Neobuxbaumia tetetzo and a Mammillaria sp. at 1500-2000 m.


  • Agave flavescens var. macroacantha (Zuccarini) Jacobi 1864
  • Agave flavescens var. macroacantha (Herbert) Jacobi 1865
  • Agave pugioniformis Zucc. 1832
  • Agave flavescens Salm-Dyck 1834
  • Agave macracantha Herbert 1837 (nom. inval.)
  • Agave besseriana Van Houtte 1868
  • Agave subfalcata Jacobi 1869
  • Agave macrantha Jacobi 1869 (nom. inval)
  • Agave besseriana candida Jacobi 1870 (nom. inval)
  • Agave besseriana longifolia glauca Jacobi 1870  (nom. inval)
  • Agave besseriana longifolia viridis  Jacobi 1870  (nom. inval)
  • Agave besseriana hystix hort ex Hooker 1871
  • Agave linearis Jacobi 1871
  • Agave oligophylla Backer 1877
  • Agave sudburyensis Backer 1877
  • Agave paucifolia Backer 1878 (Nom. illeg.)
  • Agave integrifolia Backer 1888
  • Agave macroacantha var. integrifolia Trelease 1907
  • Agave macracantha var. integrifolia Trelease 1907
  • Agave macracantha var. planifolia A. Berger 1915

he modest size of this species recommends it for use in residential landscapes or as a potted specimen.

Cultivation: A. macracantha is a  stunning specimen plant for containers. In milder climates this plant grows well outdoor in full sun (Light shade or eastern exposure in hot areas), plant in deep well drained soil where the climate is suitable ( coastal zones and islands). The plant in pot It tend to be slow grower, but worth the effort.  It is better to use wide pots which allow space for the roots of the Agave macroacantha to grow. Every two years the pots should be changed, shortening the roots and eliminating the buds which suck the goodness from the plant, limiting its growth. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch. In winter watering this plant can be done once every 1-2 months, there is no need to mist the leaves. It is theoretically hardy to -3° C,  particularly when dry but  it is best to avoid severe freezing temperatures. Heat Tolerance: Excellent.
 Propagation: Agave macroacantha can sexually reproduce by seeds and propagate vegetatively by aerial bulbils and ground-level basal shoots and rhizomes. It suckers, but nearby ( not an aggressive spreader in the garden).Remove the basal suckers  in spring or summer and let the cuttings dry for a few days before inserting in compost.. only problem is the logistics of getting to the suckers - very sharp spines and suckers usually right up against, or underneath the mother plant.

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Encyclopaedia of Succulents. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.