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Great Americanas

July 3, 2010

American beauties

Tributes to great Americans, along with hoopla, barbecues and fireworks, are all part of the Fourth of July weekend. This got me thinking I should honor the great americanas — agave americanas — that do much to make the Rancho a place worth noticing. Whether a solid, cool gray-blue, edged in brilliant yellow or striped thickly in white, these handsome plants have certainly found a home here, as well as in many countries around the globe. Originally from Mexico, they’re well-adapted to our similar temperatures, as well as other mediterranean-type climates. Now very common here in Southern California, I’ve seen them grow quite large, with some here in town reaching 6  to 7-feet tall. I have to admit the gigantic, stiff, spear-shaped leaves can be quite intimidating at that size; and the spines that seem alarmingly sharp on a 2 to 3-foot-tall specimen appear absolutely lethal when they stand taller than I do. Happily mine are 3 or 4-feet tall, and about as wide, so I don’t fear them at all. I love all my agaves americanas equally, whether variegated or solid in color, not least because they require very little in the way of care. Plus, they produce numerous miniature versions of themselves at their bases that are easily pulled out and given to appreciative friends. Agaves americanas bloom extremely infrequently and so sometimes are called “century plants”. A blooming agave is truly spectacular, as it sends up a fast-growing asparagus-like stalk that eventually branches out and flowers prettily on top. Sadly, the appearance of this rare beauty signals its end, and the agave dies soon after. Its life, however, is a joy to behold and I feel honored to have witnessed the process from beginning to end a few times. I have many varieties of agaves on-site, but these, the amerianas, are my favorites …

Yellow-edged: agave americana marginata

This variety, the agave marginata, has a swirling energy that is heightened by the bright yellow edging its sharp saw-like leaves. I’ve got several of these at the rear of the property and each is spectacular. They put the marvel in marvelous!

Big blue: agave americana

This is the classic americana. Its stately form and beauty is enhanced by its haughty gray blue coloring and it stands regally apart from other specimens on the Rancho’s side slope. I love the ghostly impression the saw-toothed leaves imprint upon each other when tightly closed, betraying their prior closeness once they’ve opened.

White stripes: agave americana mediopicta alba

I bought this americana, and its brother, from a man on craigslist who had dozens.  When I saw them online, then in person, I knew had to have them. Not only was the overall shape of these plants amazing, but the mellow green leaves with thick white stripes going down the middle, struck me as remarkably graphic. Only thing was we had to dig them out ourselves and it was not easy as they were quite large and quite sharp! This variety is really prolific, and having just harvested several mini-me versions of this beauty recently, there are still many more to be pulled and gifted to friends.

Agave americana is a true American beauty worthy of our salute, this weekend and always … and speaking of weekends: I actually have a 3-day, 4th of July weekend holiday — complete with party and fireworks with friends on Sunday … Here’s hoping we, and all of you, have a great time!


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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2010 5:07 pm

    This has got to be the best 4th of July theme(ish) post ever!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 3, 2010 5:16 pm

      Lol, thanks, Loree… Pass it along!

  2. Dave in Toronto permalink
    July 4, 2010 7:42 pm

    Such beauties … I miss them terribly.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 5, 2010 6:17 am

      I would miss them too!

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