San Marcos Growers LogoSan Marcos Growers
New User
Wholesale Login
Enter Password
Home Products Purchase Gardens About Us Resources Contact Us
Nursery Closure
Search Utilities
Plant Database
Search Plant Name
Detail Search Avanced Search Go Button
Search by size, origins,
details, cultural needs
Website Search Search Website GO button
Search for any word
Site Map
Retail Locator
Plant Listings


  for JUNE

Natives at San Marcos Growers
Succulents at San Marcos Growers
 Weather Station

Products > Agave bovicornuta
Agave bovicornuta - Cow Horn Agave

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Agave bovicornuta
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Agavaceae (now Asparagaceae)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow Green
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Height: 2-3 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Agave bovicornuta (Cow Horn Agave) - A very attractive small to medium-sized solitary growing agave that grows to 2 ˝ to 3 feet tall by 4 to 5 feet wide with an open rosette of 24 to 30 inch long by 5 ˝ to 6 ˝ inches wide yellow-green to medium-green leaves that are widest in the middle. The leaf blades are attractively edged with large reddish dark brown teeth on large teats, some recurving back towards the base and others towards the leaf tip, which has a short stout terminal spine. The broad leaf surfaces are further decorated by impressions (crenulated bud imprints) made by the margins of other leaves as they emerge from the center of growth and the new leaves have an attractive satiny finish. When the plant matures, which usually takes up to 12 years or more, it produces a 16 to 23 foot tall branched inflorescence bearing 2 inch long yellow and green flowers As this plant does not sucker, it will need replacement after flowering.

Plant in full sun to light shade (required in hot interior valleys and deserts) in a well-drained soil and irrigate infrequently or more occasionally for more rapid growth. Noted as hardy to around 20° F by some references (some report as low as 15° F) but Mary and Gary Irish state in Agaves, Yuccas and Related Plants that “It should be protected anytime the temperature goes below 25° F". We concur with this as we saw light damage on the leaf margins and yellowing on Agave bovicornuta in a Santa Barbara garden when temperatures dipped below 25° F in January 2007. This is a great looking green agave for planting in the garden or in containers. Because this plant does not naturally sucker or produce bulbils on the flower stalk and needs cross pollination for seed set, plants in landscapes generally only last one generation. Because of this it has been relatively rare in cultivation but with new propagation techniques, such as laboratory micro propagation (tissue culture), this beautiful plant is becoming more commonly available.

Agave bovicornuta grows naturally on rocky slopes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet in elevation in western Mexico (Sonora, Sinaloa and Chihuahua). The name cow horn agave and the specific epithet “bovicornuta” ('bovi' meaning "cow" and 'cornuta' meaning "horn") comes from the teeth recurving in opposing fashion much like a bull's horn. Common names for this agave in Mexico have been lechuilla verde, sapari, sapuli and noriba. Its flowers were washed and used to make tortillas and the stems used to make mescal, though it is noted as being more bitter than other agave used for these purposes. As with other agave this plant has juice which is caustic and has been documented to cause temporary dermatitis on sensitive skin. We also grow a very colorful variegated selection that we call Agave bovicornuta 'Holstein'

This information about Agave bovicornuta displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.