Scientific: Agave parryi (syn: A. parryi huachucensis)
Common: Parry's agave
Family: Asparagaceae (subfamily Agavoideae)
Origin: Arizona uplands, upper Sonoran Desert transition zones into grassland and montane ecotones, northern Mexico

Pronounciation: A-GA-ve par-REE-eye

Hardiness zones
11-13, 18-24
USDA 7-11 (semi-arid to arid zones only)

Landscape Use: Coarse accent plant for succulent and rock gardens, desert gardens, xeric landscae design themes, native desert landscape planting themes, either singly or in groups.

Form & Character: Short, stout, stiffly well armed, basal rosetting, grey, dangerous.

Growth Habit: Evergreen, rosetting succulent agave, slow growing to 3 feet tall with equal spread, readily produces basal offsets by rhizomes (short underground stems).

Foliage/Texture: Basal rosetting, glaucous, ovate, triangulated succulent leaves to 12 inches long with 6 inches spread, widest at base, each leaf is well armed with a stout, sharp, pointed apical spine, 1.5 inches long. leaf marginal spines to 5/8 inch long, reddish brown in color; coarse texture.

Flowers & Fruits: A single, terminal paniculate flower stalk to 12 feet with bright yellow flowers expressed from red flower buds after 25 years, flowers exceptionally intricate and beautiful; fruit capsulated.

Seasonal Color: None, except when in flower after many years.

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun

Soil: Avoid poorly-drained soils and do not over irrigate. Parry's agave needs good soil drainage.

Watering: Little to none required after establishment.

Pruning: It is advisable to clip foliar spines if located in areas of human traffic. They are very dangerous!

Propagation: Division of basal offsets, seed.

Disease and pests: Agave snout weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus) will attack several agave species in the low desert of Arizona including Parry's agave.

Additional comments: Parry's agave is a nice, smaller, but dangerous, blue-gray agave for small desert garden spaces and containers. The aggressive activity of pollinators when this Agave species is in flower is a real sight to behold!

A bit of taxonomic confusion: The precise nomenclature of this taxon is in dispute because of phenotypic variation across its geopgraphic range, but most identify it as A. parryi. There are two accepted subspecies of A. parryi:

  • A. parryi ssp. neomexicana [(synonym: A. neomexicana), (common names: Parry's agave, Texas agave, New Mexico agave)]
  • A. parryi ssp. parryi [(synonyms: A. huachucensis, A. parryi var. couesii, A. parryi var. huachucensis, A. scabra), (common names: Parry's agave, century plant, rough agave)

    A. parryi var. turncata is presently an immensely popular small varietal selection.