This Agave is planted in a garden in the eastern Goleta Valley near Santa Barbara. This garden has a collection of many beautiful agave, cycads and succulents. Among them is this beautiful plant with broad gray leaves with small dark closely spaced teeth on the leaf margins and a short stout spine at the tip. The owner has lost track of the name and source of this plant. I have recently taken some pups off of this plant and would like to produce it in our nursery but would first like to identify it if possible. Quite a few knowledgeable plants folks have seen this plant but nobody yet has been able to ID it. Some have speculated that it looks like a cross between Agave shawii and A. parryii (maybe even var. truncata) but I am not aware of a hybrid such as this. If anyone has any idea about this plant please contact Randy Baldwin
Thanks to everyone on the AgaveForum who replied to me personally or chimed in on the forum about this plant. A number of you suggested that this may be the newly described Agave ovatifolia. After seeing Greg Starr's article "Agave ovatifolia. The Whales Tongue Agave"in the November-December CSSA Journal. I had considered this possiblity and ordered a few A. ovatifolia from Starr Nursery to compare with my plant. From comparitive observations I have since made and through correspondence with Greg Starr, it is pretty clear that these plants are very different. My mystery plant's upper leaf surface is fairly flat and does not have the gutter like groove that Greg notes gave his plant the common name "Whales Tongue", nor does it have the strong keel on the backside of the leaf that is evident nor the teats subtending the spines that A. ovatifolia has.
More recently Ed Greene posted on the AgaveForum list a suggestion that this plant might be Agave sebastiana. I had been considering this possibility myself because of a recent siting of Agave sebastiana at Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano. More on this story can be found on our Agave sebastiana Page.