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Dale W. McNeal, except as noted

Perennial herb, shrub, tree, fibrous succulent or not, from bulbs or rhizomes. Stem: above ground or not, branched or not. Leaf: simple, deciduous or not, basal or in terminal rosettes, generally sessile, linear, lanceolate, oblanceolate or ovate, fibrous or not, thin and flexible or thick and rigid or succulent; margin entire, fine-serrate, dentate, or with filaments, tips rigid or flexible, with a spine or not. Flower: bisexual; perianth parts 6, in 2 petal-like whorls, free or ± fused; stamens 6, ± fused to perianth, filaments often wide, succulent; ovary superior or inferior, chambers 3, style 1 (thick, poorly defined), stigma head-like or 3-lobed. Fruit: capsule, indehiscent, loculicidal, or septicidal. Seed: few to many, ± flat or ovoid, generally black.
23 genera, 637 species: worldwide. —Scientific Editors: Dale W. McNeal, Thomas J. Rosatti.

Key to Agavaceae


James L. Reveal

Shrub-like, stem often short, forming basal rosettes, scapose, often rhizomed, generally dying after flowering. Leaf: long-lived, sessile, lance-linear to ovate, thick, generally rigid, often fleshy, glabrous, armed with marginal teeth, spine at tip. Inflorescence: panicle-, raceme-, or spike-like, bracted, often with bulblets. Flower: [1] paired, or in clusters of 3–40; perianth generally funnel- or bell-shaped, yellow to green-yellow, parts petal-like, 6 in 2 whorls, fused basally, lobes erect to ascending or ± spreading distally; stamens 6; ovary inferior, 3-chambered. Fruit: oblong to ovoid, often beaked, loculicidal. Seed: many, ± flat, black.
± 200 species: warm, tropical America. (Greek: noble, for imposing stature) [Reveal & Hodgson 2002 FNANM 26:442–461]
Unabridged note: Cult material may be identified using Gentry 1982 Agaves of Continental N. America. Univ. Arizona Press.

Key to Agave

A. shawii Engelm. var. shawii SHAW AGAVE
Stem 0.5–2 m; rosette 1, 0.8–20 dm. Leaf: 20–50 cm, narrow-ovate, marginal teeth 5–6 mm, 1–2(5) cm apart, tip-spine 2–4 cm. Inflorescence: panicle-like, 2–4 m including peduncle; bracts 10–25 cm, lanceolate to triangular, persistent; branches generally 8–14, generally 10–20 cm; flowers 35–75[100] per cluster. Flower: yellow to ± red; perianth 6–10 cm, tube 12–19 mm, wide-funnel-shaped, lobes 17–40 mm, unequal; stamens long-exserted, filaments 4.3–7 cm, from middle of tube, yellow, anthers 20–35 mm; ovary 3–5 cm. Fruit: 5.5–7 cm. Seed: 4–7 mm.
Coastal bluffs, historically nearby mesas, foothills; < 100[< 300] m. s South Coast (sw San Diego Co.); Baja California. [Agave orcuttiana Trelease; Agave pachyacantha Trelease] Sep–May [Online Interchange] {CNPS list}

Previous taxon: Agave deserti var. simplex
Next taxon: Agave utahensis


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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Agave, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015

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Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Agave shawii var. shawii Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.