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Agave parryi var. parryi Engelm.

Century plant, Parry’s agave, mescal agave

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyAsparagaceaeAgaves, asparagus, hyacinths, and others
GenusAgaveFrom Greek, meaning “noble”
SpeciesparryiNamed for botanist Charles Parry
var.parryiParry’s variety of Parry’s agave

About plant names...

Varieties of Parry’s agave are native to Arizona and Mexico, between 4000-9000' (1.2-2.7 km) in elevation. Few sources acknowledge this variety, but I couldn’t resolve the uncertainty.

Identification: Rosettes reach 24" (60 cm) tall and 3' (91 cm) around, and resemble giant artichokes. Leaves are 10-16" (25-40 cm) long and 3-5" (7.6-12 cm) wide, wide and flat or somewhat oval in shape, tapering to a sharp dark tan, brown, or black tip. They are smooth and rigid, about ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) thick, edged with teeth, light grayish- or bluish-green. The flower stalk is 11-20' (3.4-6.1 m) high, branched at the top into 18-30 branches, each with bright lemon yellow flowers. Flowering occurs between June and August.

Edibility: Indigenous peoples including the Apaches prepared this agave in many different ways as a food source.


Irish, Mary & Irish, Gary, Agaves, Yuccas and Related Plants: A Gardener’s Guide, Timber Press, 2000, p. 146 (discusses Agave parryi but does not acknowledge this variety)

Online References:

Agave parryi var. parryi on Desert-tropicals.com

Agave parryi var. parryi on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Agave parryi var. truncata at George and Audrey DeLange's Arizona wildflower site

Agave parryi var. parryi on

Agave parryi on the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M University, Texas A&M System

Agave parryi subsp. parryi var. truncata 'J.C. Raulston' at the JC Raulston Arboretum

Agave chihuahuana Trelease

Agave patonii Trelease

Agave scabra

Agave wizlizeni

Agave americana var. latifolia


Agave parryi var. parryi description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Agave parryi (century plant, Parry’s agave, mescal agave)

9/7/2010 · Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Range: Zones 9-11:

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