Agave bracteosa (Candelabrum Agave) - Slow growing succulent with 1 foot tall by 18" wide rosettes of mostly unarmed pale green leaves - what teeth it has are mostly tiny serrated ones that do not bite! The leaves, which usually number 20 or fewer emerge vertically in the center and arch gracefully back towards the center of the plant. It eventually suckers to gradually form a dense stand. When mature a 3- to 5-foot-tall spike rises straight up and bearing a dense terminal cluster of white flowers, distinctive from all other Agave. After flowering the main rosette slowly dies but younger suckers perpetuate the plant.
Plant in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil. Fairly drought tolerant in coastal gardens although performs best with occasional irrigation and requires it in hotter inland sites. Hardy to 10 F. It has a good tolerance to both heat and cold but not overly wet soils.
Agave bracteosa comes from the Coahuila Desert of the o the Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico, in the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo León where it grows on shaded or semi-shade limestone cliffs between 3,000 and 5,500 feet. The name for the genus is one given by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus. It comes from the Greek word 'agaue' (agauos or agavos) meaning "noble" or "splendid" and originates from Greek mythology. Agaue was the daughter of Cadmus, the king and founder of the city of Thebes, and of the goddess Harmonia. The name was first used by Linnaeus in 1753 when he described Agave americana. The specific epithet is from the Latin 'bractea' meaning "bract" in reference to the persistent bracts of the flowers. It is also commonly known as Spider Agave or Squid Agave.
We grew this fun agave from 2001 until 2017. Our original plants grown from seed purchased from Aztekakti Cacti and Succulent Seed of El Paso, Texas. It was from the original seed crops that we selected the hybrid plant we named Agave 'Mateo', which we introduced in 2009.
Information about Agave bracteosa displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.