Agave shawii Engelmann
Agave orcuttiana Trelease
Agave pachyacantha Trelease
Shaw’s agave, coastal agave
This agave is native to the Pacific coast of Baja California, as far north as the southernmost part of California.
Identification: Rosettes can reach 3' (91 cm) in height and 5' (1.5 m) around. Plants are sometimes solitary, but may produce multiple offsets. Leaves are up to 24" (60 cm) long and 10" (25 cm) wide. Teeth may or may not be present along leaf edges, varying even in a single plant. Like other agaves, it produces a spectacular flower on a stalk up to 12' (3.7 m) high, with branching flowers at the top that are yellow or reddish. The flowering display is terminal to the agave, though by this time the plant has often spread clones of itself.
The flowering spikes remind me of century plants, but century plants are generally larger (with leaf rosettes up to 13' (4.0 m) in diameter). And while this agave is found near the coast, century plants are found in much of Mexico.
Edibility: Sap from broken leaves causes painful irritation or severe dermatitis.
Agave shawii at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Sonoran Desert Digital Library
Agave shawii at George and Audrey DeLange's Arizona wildflower site
Agave shawii on Wikipedia
Agave shawii on Desert-tropicals.com
Agave shawii on CalPhotos
Agave shawii at the Living Desert
Agave shawii on Wikimedia Commons
Agave shawii at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Agave shawii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.
Range: Zones 9b-10: