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Agave deserti

Agave deserti Engelm.

Desert Agave, Desert Century Plant, Century Plant

Agavaceae (Century-Plant Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Desert century-plantís succulent, sword-like, blue-green leaves with sharp, marginal teeth and a stiff, terminal spine form a basal clump 2 ft. high and up to 6 ft. wide. When the plants are 8-20 years old they send up a sturdy, 6-9 ft., flowering stalk bearing large, mounded clusters of pale yellow, tubular flowers. After setting fruit, the entire plant dies. The dried seed capsules remain conspicuous for many months.

The Century Plant is a member of the agave family (family Agavaceae). Agaves are stout plants with woody stems or stem-bases, often tall, even tree-like, the long and narrow leaves crowded in rosettes at ends of stems or branches, a stout rapidly growing flower stalk arising from the rosette. Century Plants do not take a century to flower, but it may take them several decades to store enough food reserves to supply the rapidly growing stalk and mature the seeds. Then the rosette, often representing the entire plant, dies.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall by 6 feet wide when not flowering. Flower stalk up to about 9 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun


Native Distribution: AZ, s. CA & Mex.
Native Habitat: Washes; dry, rocky slopes below 5000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry, rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Century plant produces offsets freely. It is one of the most drought tolerant of the Agave species.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

California Giant-Skipper
(Agathymus stephensi)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Sow seed or use offsets.
Seed Treatment: No treatment.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
Bibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Agave deserti in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Agave deserti in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Agave deserti


Record Modified: 2009-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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