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Toumey's Century Plant

Agave toumeyana

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed in June 2009 at Fish Creek Vista, along Apache Trail, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA.

Photo © by Michael Plagens

n. of Carefree, Maricopa Co., Arizona, Sept. 2002

These small agaves are often known as Shin Daggers because the sharp leaf tips can jab the shin of even the most careful hikers! In Arizona this plant occurs at elevations over 1200 m, mostly above typical Sonoran Desert, within chaparral or desert grassland habitat, often on wind-swept, thin-soiled and rocky terraces.

SUCCULENT: Mature plants have a hundred or more thick, succulent dagger-like leaves in a rosette at ground level. The longest leaves normally reach to ½ meter tall. Plants begin reproducing from vegetative pups and as a result clumps of many plants growing together are often formed.

ARMED: The sharp tips of the leaves will stab a hiker or browsing herbivore.

LEAVES: The top surface of leaves is flat, some loose fibers may be present along the margins which may have some serrations towards base.

RANGE: Arizona endemic. On windy terraces above most of the Upper Sonoran Desert and more abundant in desert grassland or chaparral. Found along the northern boundaries of the Sonoran Desert.

FLOWERS: Tall narrow stalks with many whitish-cream flowers along their length appear late May and June. After blooming the plant dies, but is usually succeeded by one or more vegetatively propagated pups that mature after some years before flowering.

FRUIT: Fleshy capsules dry and begin splitting open remaining attached to the dry stalk for a year or more.

Agavaceae -- Agave Family

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Agave toumeyana flowering stem photo © by Michael Plagens

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