Full Moon: Mother of…well, a hundred

August 27, 2007

 small Agave offset

Above is an egg tempera sketch of a 3″ offset (or “pup”) from the agave plant in my front yard.  I nicknamed her “Mother of Thousands” but she actually has about a hundred offsets – which is still amazing since this small variety of Agave palmeri usually has no more than a dozen.  The primary leaf rosette was killed by weevils in 2002, but most of the offsets surved and the largest one is about two feet tall and blooming. The flower spike is over 15 feet tall, and hummingbirds are enjoying the pink and green flowers.  There is a photo on my AGAVE NOTES page (on the cactus homepage).  This particular plant is special because it’s the only wild native agave in my yard.  The other eight species that I planted are native to southern AZ or northern Mexico, but they are nursery plants or gifts from friends.  Weevils attack the Mother every summer but she seems to produce new plants faster than the weevils can breed their creepy, crunching, armored-tank larvae.  As with all agave species, the main rosette dies shortly after the plant blooms, but the offsets survive and the dry stalk (hopefully with a few seedpods) persists for a couple of years to provide high-rise apartments for friendly carpenter bees. 


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