Scientific: Agave ovatifolia
Common: Whale's tongue agave
Family: Asparagaceae (subfamily Agavoideae)
Origin: Rocky soils in the mountainous regions of Nuevo Leon in northeastern Mexico

Pronounciation: A-GA-ve o-va-ti-FOL-ee-a

Hardiness zones
USDA 7-10

Landscape Use: Strong gray accent, focal point for desert gardens; oasis and xeric landscape design themes. Great for use around desert and oasis ramadas and patios, even in large containers. Often effectively used in mass or groups spaced at 6 to 8 feet on center.

Form & Character: Broadly spreading, wide, exposed, stiff and pointed, imposing.

Growth Habit: Solitary (non-offsetting) with a hemispherical rosette reaching anywhere from 2 to 4 feet tall by 3 to 5 feet across; eventual size much influenced by available water.

Foliage/texture: Broad leaves are presented in a regular rosette pattern, somewhat reflexed, strap-shaped, succulent, grayish to 2 inches long. Leaves are coarsely serrate and taper to a distinct sharp, grayish black spiny tip; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Whale's tongue agave will produce a paniculate inflorescence that is about 10 to 14 feet tall and consists of several side branches (arborescent), each branch densely clustered with large, greenish yellow flowers, can produce bulbils in urban conditions.

Seasonal color: None except when flowering.

Temperature: Very cold hardy to 5oF, but tolerant of desert also.

Light: In Phoenix, the filtered shade of a small desert tree from summer western sun is best. Otherwise, leaves will yellow a bit if grown under the full, intense summer sun.

Soil: Well-drained best

Watering: Apply only occasional water once established. It readily responds to water by increasing growth and eventual size.

Pruning: None

Propagation: Seed, bubiles (if you can find them on a reproductive stalk).

Disease and pests: Yes, all agaves are prone to some root rot if soils are chronically wet, but the roots of whale's tongue agave are especially senstive and will assuredly rot if the growing soil is not well drained.

Additional comments: This is a striking and imposing medium-sized agave that's a real wimp when it comes to inadequate soil drainage....water lovers get ready for the stench of whale's tongue stem rot. The gray color accent of the foliage is especially striking when juxapositioned to nearby landscape greenery.