Agave parryi

Source: Andrew Toskin

Agave parryi

Agave parryi or Parry’s Agave is a succulent plant from Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. It is one of the largest and the most frost-resistant agave.

The plant was formerly used by the locals in its entirety: the heart is used to make tequila and mescal. The flower stem, seeds and young leaves are edible after roasting. From the leaves strong fibers are extracted. The spines can be used as needles and pins.


It has an invisible and very short stem from which grows a rosette up to 60 cm high and 90 cm in diameter. This short stem that constitutes the heart of the plant is often used to make tequila.

It produces fairly numerous offshoots so a nice group of plants is formed.

The gray-green fleshy leaves appear in the center of the rosette. At the top of the leaves is a dark brown sharp spine of 15-30 mm. The leaf edge is covered with small brown recurved spines of 3-7 mm long.

The inflorescence appears after at least 20 years, depending on growing conditions. In the folklore claim that the plant blooms only after 100 years and therefore one of its English names also ‘Century Plant’.

The inflorescence is 3-5 meters high, the flowers are yellow and appear on an upright stem. The plant is monocarpic: after the bloom the plant dies off because all the energy has been put in producing the large inflorescence.


Common names:

Mescal, Parry agave, Parry’s agave


Agave americana var. latifolia, Agave chihuahuana, Agave patonii, Agave scabra, Agave wislizeni


Agave: from the Greek agauos (admirable)
Parryi: in honor of Charles C. Parry, physicist, botanist and plant collector of the 19the century


Arizona, New-Mexico and Mexico


Rocky hillsides, oak woodlands, pine forests, at 1,500-2,500 m altitude


USDA zones 7-11, -20 °C (in dry conditions even up to USDA zone 5)



Very draining humus-poor sand or clay soil




Water sparingly: too much water results in root rot. Best give him a monthly bath in water and let the water be sucked up through the bottom of the pot


Fertilize every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with special cactus fertilizer with low nitrogen content


Seed, Suckers

Sowing instructions:

  • sow in a light mix, preferably mixed with sand and gravel
  • sow at the surface: the seeds need light to germinate
  • moisten the soil
  • cover the pot with clear plastic and place it in full sun on a hot spot
  • the seedlings may be transplanted into a sandy substrate with very good drainage and placed outside in full sun when the weather permits
  • germination: 30-90 days