Agave americana var. expansa

(Jacobi) Gentry

Agave Fam. Sonora, 80. 1972.

Common names: Spreading century plant
Basionym: Agave expansa Jacobi Abh. Schles. Ges. Vaterl. Cult., Abth. Naturwiss. (Naturwiss.-Med. Abth.) 1868: 151. 1868
Synonyms: Agave abrupta Trelease
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 26. Treatment on page 453. Mentioned on page 443, 454.

Plants short-stemmed; rosettes dense. Leaves erect, 120–150 × 18–24 cm; blade glaucous-gray to green, typically cross-zoned; margins nearly straight to crenate, teeth 5–8 mm; apical spine conical, 2–3 cm. Scape 7–9 m. Inflorescences: lateral branches 20–30. Flowers 7–8.5 cm; perianth tube 13–14 mm; ovary 3.5–4 cm. Capsules not seen. Seeds unknown. 2n = 120.

Phenology: Flowering late spring–early summer.
Habitat: Sandy places in desert scrub and grasslands
Elevation: 500–1300 m


The wild expression of Agave americana var. expansa is technically a variant of subsp. americana. A cultivar derived from var. expansa was introduced into western Europe, where it was first named. That cultivar is planted occasionally in the warmer regions of the United States; it is not naturalized. The var. expansa has never been found in fruit, but it is likely that it itself is an early cultivar developed by pre-Columbian people who established it far to the west of the species range in eastern Mexico. Reproduction in var. expansa is strictly vegetative.

Selected References


Lower Taxa

James L. Reveal +  and Wendy C. Hodgson +
(Jacobi) Gentry +
Agave expansa +
Spreading century plant +
Ariz. +  and w Mexico. +
500–1300 m +
Sandy places in desert scrub and grasslands +
Flowering late spring–early summer. +
Agave Fam. Sonora, +
Agave abrupta +
Agave americana var. expansa +
Agave americana subsp. americana +
variety +