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Products > Furcraea macdougallii
Furcraea macdougallii - MacDougall's Century Plant
Image of Furcraea macdougallii
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Agavaceae (now Asparagaceae)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Greenish White
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [F. macdougalii, Hort.]
Height: 12-20 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F

This species was first imported into Messrs Loddiges’ nursery in England in 1838 and the flowered in the conservatory of the Regent’s Park Botanic Garden in 1864 but remains relatively rare in cultivation. The fact that this species has longer greener less glaucus leaves, has horizontal inflorescence branch tips and does not produce bulbils distinguishes it from the otherwise similar looking Furcraea bedinghausii, which we have long grown and is more common in cultivation. We believe that most plants offered as Furcraea longaeva have been grown from bulbils and are in fact more likely to be Furcraea bedinghausii than Furcraea longaeva. Our plants grown from seed purchased from Furcraea macdougallii (MacDougall's Century Plant) - A large rosette forming succulent that has 6 foot long dark green stiffly-upright leaves with regularly-spaced hooked teeth growing at the top of an unbranched trunk that can be 8 feet tall or more - in habitat it can get up over 20 feet and is considered the tallest of the Agave relatives. We have seen this plant typically flower in cultivation when the trunk is 5 to 15 feet tall. When this plant blooms it produces a spike that can rise an additional 20 feet, bearing greenish-white flowers and then producing bulbils (plantlets) at the flower base - these bulbils perpetuate this plant's life as it is monocarpic, with the main plant dying after flowering.

Plant in full sun and irrigate little or not at all - a very dry growing plant. Hardy to light frost with short duration temperatures down to 28° F having not damaged it. This is one of the most spectacular and dramatic plants in the Agave family.

Furcraea macdougallii has a limited distribution from 2,600 to 3,300 feet in dry thorn forests in calcareous soils near Puebla in Oaxaca, Mexico. The name Furcraea was given to this genus in 1793 by the French botanist Etienne Pierre Ventenat (1757–1808) to honor French chemist and politician, Antoine F de Fourcroy (1755-1809), who was the Director of the Jadin des Plantes in Paris. This species was described by Eizi Matuda in 1955 in "Cactáceas y Suculentas Mexicanas" and named to honor his friend Thomas MacDougall (1895-1973), a Scottish-born naturalist who explored southern Mexico and who first discovered this plant in Oaxaca. This plant is often listed with the specific epithet misspelled as "macdougalii" (w/ one "l") as though to honor Dr. Daniel Trembly MacDougal, a desert ecologist from the New York Botanic Garden and namesake of Fouquieria macdougalii. Unfortunately, this incorrect spelling can be found even in normally reliable sources. In the Fall-Winter 2013 issue of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden Newsletter in an article titled Once in a Lifetime: Celebrating a Botanical Finale it notes that the arboretum received eight plants in 1966 and by 2013, nearly 50 years later, all but one plant had flowered and perished but had produced many plantlets to perpetuate the planting. We first started growing this great plant in 1990 and some plants we sold in the early days flowered at around 30 years old. 

This information about Furcraea macdougallii 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.