Agave parryi

Accession Count: 142
Common Name: Parry's agave
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Family Name: Asparagaceae
Botanical Name: Agave parryi
Sub Species:
A. parryi is a compact, medium sized agave with glaucous leaves, oval in shape and lined with dark marginal and black terminal spines.The leaves develop a symmetrical rosette up to four feet across, forming dense colonies as agave offset. Mature cacti 15-20 years old will bloom once before perishing, developing a large flowering stalk during the summer months. Up to 4m tall, the stalk will support a panicle of numerous golden flowers. 
Compound: Aga par
Geographic Origin: Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico
Ecozone Origin: Nearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History:

There are four varieties of A. parryi in cultivation. A. parryi var. huachucensis is the most common, but A. parryi var. truncata is a very attractive and quickly popularizing variety. However, A.. parryi var. parryi and A. parryi var. couesii are not as common in the trade.

Agave parryi has a widespread range throughout North America, occupying the upper Sonoran and lower transitional zones, at altitudes of 1,200 to 2,800 meters above sea level. The species is distributed throughout the entirety of Arizona, the mountains of western Chihuahua and Durango, southeastern New Mexico, and extreme western Texas. The type specimen was found within Graham County, Arizona.

Parry's agave is also known as the “century plant” due to its long lifespan, occasionally requiring as many as 30 years to flower. After blooming, however, the agave will die, as A. parryi is a monocarpic species. 

Lastly, A. parryi has received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for outstanding value in cultivation.

Cultivation Notes: Native to the southwest, Parry’s agave is drought tolerant and should be watered sparingly during the summer. Thoroughly soak and allow soil to completely dry in between waterings, but suspend irrigation in winter. Once or twice a year, feed with a slow release fertilizer that is low in nitrogen. Additionally, plant in a well-draining cactus or succulent soil with a porous mixture of sand, pumice, loam, or peat moss to avoid root-rot. Avoid manures if planting young seedlings, and maintain a pH  between 6.1 and 7.8. 
Full sun is recommended for the best growth, but occasional shade will be tolerated, and is necessary on very hot days. In addition to heat, Parry's agave will tolerate temperatures down to -5°F, USDA hardiness zones 5a to 11. However, while Agave parryi is one of the most cold hardy agave, specimens should still be protected from freezing, especially if moisture is present.
Propagation is possible by dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms, and bulbs, as well as through seed and offsets. Agave will slowly develop basal suckers, which should be removed during spring or summer, and dried before planting. However, always wear gloves when handling to protect against the sharp spines and irritating sap, which can cause reddening and blistering.
A. parryi has been used extensively by Southwestern Indigenous tribes, including for food, beverages, soap, medicine, in crafting, and as lances. The core can be roasted, and then either devoured or pounded into cakes. The leaves and agave “hearts” were roasted, baked, or sun dried, and then consumed. The long central stalks were boiled, dried, or eaten raw. The colorful agave juice was fermented into mezcal, used as a multipurpose paint, and occasionally used as rouge for cheeks. At the same time, a soup could be made from a dried powder extracted from the leaves.

Height: 0 - 5 feet
Width: 0 - 5 feet
Growth Rate: Slow Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: Summer
Color: Yellow
Function: Accent
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

Agave parryi