Agave parryi subsp. neomexicana

(Wooton & Standley) B. Ullrich

Sida 15: 259. 1992.

Common names: New Mexico agave
Basionym: Agave neomexicana Wooton & Standley Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 16: 115, plate 48. 1913
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 26. Treatment on page 457. Mentioned on page 450, 456, 458.

Rosettes flat-topped, 3.5–4.5 × 4–6 dm. Leaves ascending, 17–45 × 4–12 cm; blade lanceolate; margins straight, teeth 5–7 mm, 1–3 cm apart; apical spine dark brown, subulate or acicular, 2.5–3 cm. Scape (2–)3–4.5 m. Inflorescences: lateral branches (7–)10–17, slightly ascending. Flowers 5.5–6.7 cm; perianth red to orange in bud, yellow to yellowish green at anthesis, tube 12–18 mm, limb lobes erect to ascending, 15–20 × 3–4 mm; filaments inserted (sometimes irregularly) above mid perianth tube, green, 3.5–4.5 cm; ovary neck 4–7 mm. Capsules oblong, 2.5–3.5 cm. 2n = 120.

Phenology: Flowering mid spring–early summer.
Habitat: Gravelly to rocky places in grasslands and desert scrub
Elevation: 1600–2100 m


The Mescalero Apaches were so named because of their use of Agave parryi subsp. neomexicana. The rosettes were baked to produce a sweet, sticky food source. Overuse probably accounts in part for the limited distribution and infrequent occurrence of the species. H. S. Gentry (1982) suggested “the extensive stands of agaves along the eastern bajada of the Sierra Guadalupe” in New Mexico and Texas today may have been “a tribal no-man’s-land” between the warring Comanche and Apache peoples. E. B. Granick (1944) reported the plant as “tetraploid” without actually providing a chromosome number.

Selected References


Lower Taxa

James L. Reveal +  and Wendy C. Hodgson +
(Wooton & Standley) B. Ullrich +
Agave neomexicana +
New Mexico agave +
N.Mex. +  and Tex. +
1600–2100 m +
Gravelly to rocky places in grasslands and desert scrub +
Flowering mid spring–early summer. +
Agave parryi subsp. neomexicana +
Agave parryi +
subspecies +