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Dale W. McNeal, except as specified

Perennial to trees, from membranous bulb, fibrous corm, scaly rhizome, or erect caudex
Stem generally underground
Leaves generally basal, often withering early, alternate, generally ± linear
Inflorescence various, generally bracted
Flower generally bisexual, generally radial; perianth often showy, segments generally 6 in two petal-like whorls (outer sometimes sepal-like), free or fused at base; stamens 6 (or 3 + generally 3 ± petal-like staminodes), filaments sometimes attached to perianth or fused into a tube or crown; ovary superior or inferior, chambers 3, placentas generally axile, style generally 1, stigmas generally 3
Fruit: generally capsule, loculicidal or septicidal (berry or nut)
Genera in family: ± 300 genera, 4600 species: especially ± dry temp and subtropical; many cultivated for ornamental or food; some TOXIC. Here includes genera sometimes treated in Agavaceae, Amaryllidaceae, and other families.


Katy K. McKinney

Shrub-like, often producing rosettes without seeds, blooms once and dies
Leaves in basal rosette, long-lived, < 50 cm, sessile, linear to ovate, fleshy, glabrous; lateral teeth and tip spine-like
Inflorescence: panicle or raceme-like, scapose, generally bracted, generally 2–4 m
Flower: perianth segments 6 in 2 petal-like whorls, 3–10 cm; stamens 6; ovary inferior, chambers 3
Fruit: capsule, ± ovoid, loculicidal
Seeds many, flat, black
Species in genus: ± 300 species: warm and tropical Am
Etymology: (Greek: noble, from imposing stature)
Reference: [Gentry 1982 Agaves of North America, Univ AZ Press]


A. deserti Engelm.

Plant gray-glaucous; caudex 30–50 cm, unbranched
Leaf 25–40 cm, generally lanceolate; marginal teeth 2–8 mm, slender, widely spaced
Inflorescence: panicle; peduncle bracts triangular, scarious; flowers pedicelled in small clusters
Flower: perianth 40–60 mm, light yellow, tube 4–6 mm, lobes equal; nectary disk thick; filaments attached near base of tube, 25–35 mm; ovary 22–40 mm, neck slightly narrowed
Fruit 35–50 mm, short-stalked, beaked
Ecology: Rocky slopes, washes in desert scrub
Elevation: < 1500 m.
Bioregional distribution: s Desert Mountains, Sonoran Desert
Distribution outside California: Arizona, Baja California
Flowering time: May–Jul
Horticultural information: DRN: 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 &SUN, DRY: 15, 16, 18, 22, 23.

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