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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. shawii Engelm.


Plant dark green; caudex 10–30 cm, branched
Leaf 20–50 cm, generally ovate; marginal teeth variable
Inflorescence: panicle; peduncle bracts purple, fleshy; flowers sessile in tight clusters
Flower: perianth 75–100 mm, yellow to reddish, tube 12–16 mm, lobes unequal; filaments attached near middle of tube, 60–70 mm; ovary 35–50 mm, fleshy
Fruit 50–70 mm, beaked
Ecology: Coastal bluffs, slopes,
Elevation: < 500 m.
Bioregional distribution: s South Coast (San Diego Co.)
Distribution outside California: Baja California
Horticultural information: In cultivation.

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