En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Runaway Agave Americana from Pacific Palisades CA

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - April 29, 2013

From: Pacific Plsds, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Runaway Agave Americana from Pacific Palisades CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live near open space on Santa Monica Mountain State Park. Our Association planted non-native, invasive Agave Americanas all over the adjacent slopes, and we are trying to get the exploding pups and forest of mature ones removed, or controlled. Three are now sending up stalks. Can we prevent seeding if we remove the individual flower stalks before they dry and split open? The rhizomes are bad enough, but seeds could more easily spread to our precious park land. I'd much appreciate some advice. Thank you for all you do. We have seen Mrs. Johnson's works in our, and other states. Jill Bowman

ANSWER:

We don't quite know how to tell you this, but not only is Agave americana (American century plant) native to California but, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map, it is also native to Riverside and San Diego Counties, which is close enough to be considered native to the area. We found no indications that it was considered invasive, but you might want to read this Dave's Garden Forum page with several negative comments on the dangers of trying to remove it.

In answer to your  question on taking down the bloom stalk before it seeds out, you can certainly do so, but you will miss quite a show if you don't let the bloom stand for a while. And, the plant is going to die anyway. Century Plants live for from 8 to 40 years (not a century) before they bloom and, once they have bloomed, they die. They have been storing up the energy to reproduce all those years and then they are done.

You didn't say what Association planted the agaves, but if they are on State Park land, it would be up to the management of that park to determine whether they were to be removed and how it was to be done.

Here are links to some previous Mr. Smarty Plants answers on removing an agave:

Removing the pups

Removing the mother plant

Reasons to remove an agave

Cutting the stalk off

Bottom line: Cutting down and destroying the blooming stalk will certainly prevent seeding any more agaves, but the pups around those plants are the main source of propagation for the plant. Attacking any of those projects means attacking the mature plants, which is going to be plenty tough.

 

From the Image Gallery


American century plant
Agave americana

American century plant
Agave americana

American century plant
Agave americana

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Film growing on prickly pear from Austin
September 28, 2012 - We've just xeriscaped our front & back yards. Two of the spineless prickly pear cacti have a beige film growing on the paddles. The film is now moving further up the cactus, and one of the upper pad...
view the full question and answer

Spineless prickly pear from Lago Vista TX
April 30, 2012 - We visited Lady Bird Johnson Center yesterday. I was impressed with the spine less prickly pear cactus. Is it a native or a hybrid?
view the full question and answer

When may I remove seed heads from yuccas?
June 07, 2010 - Soft tip yuccas dominate my home's landscape. When is the best time to remove the heavy seed heads after flowering? In addition to being difficult to work around, the pods seem to attract infestatio...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Strawberry Hedgehog cactus from Temple TX
June 03, 2012 - I had purchased a Strawberry hedgehog Cactus (echinocereus stramineus) a few years ago from the Wildflower Center's annual plant sale and planted it then. It has now started to brown from bottom to t...
view the full question and answer

Dealing with beetles feeding on cholla cactus
June 20, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants, I bought a Cylindropuntia imbricata from the Wildflower center and it was growing like crazy. I recently noticed a lot of beetles feeding on it. Some are black and some are gra...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center