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Products > Agave atrovirens
Agave atrovirens - Maguey
Image of Agave atrovirens
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Agavaceae (now Asparagaceae)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red & Yellow
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 8-12 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Agave atrovirens (Maguey) - One of the largest of the Agave, reaching 6 to 8 feet tall with dense rosettes of dark green 16-inch-wide leaves that have smooth dark green leaf surfaces marked with gray bud imprints and small evenly space dark brown teeth and terminal spines. When mature it produces a 15+ foot spike that has type cymes of reddish buds that open to bright yellow flowers - quite spectacular in bloom!

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and give occasional to very infrequent irrigation. Has proven hardy to at least 25 °F in our nursery garden. Give this plant some room! It is pictured in Howard Scott Gentry's Agaves of Continental North America with him sitting on a leaf within the rosette. Our second image of this plant shows our attempt to recreate this look by putting Greg Starr, author of the more recent book Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers in a plant growing in a Santa Barbara garden.

Agave atrovirens is native to the central Mexican states of Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz where it is used to make the fermented drink pulque, mescal and the nectar used as a natural sweetener. The fibers are also extracted from its leaves to be used for fabric. 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 comes from the Latin words 'ater' meaning "black" or "dark" and "virens" meaning "green" in reference to this plant's dark green leaves. It is known by several other common names such as Maguey Manso, Tlacámel, and Clacámel. Our original plants were from bulbils collected from our specimen that flowered and died in our nursery garden in 2016 that was grown from a bulbil collected many years ago in Oaxaca. Our later crops were grown from seed collected from a plant that flowered in Woodside, California in 2022. 

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