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Results tagged “agavaceae”

Apr 12, 2013: Agave shawii

Agave shawii

Bryant again authored today's entry. He writes:

Thank you to Sandy Steinman (Sandy Steinman@Flickr or his blog, Natural History Wanderings) for today's image of Agave shawii (commonly referred to as Shaw's agave). The photo was contributed via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

Agave shawii is a small- to medium-sized member of the Asparagaceae. Basal rosettes of the plants, comprised of thick fleshy leaves with robust marginal spines, usually reach heights of about a meter (3 ft.) high and just under a meter wide upon maturity. It is native to Baja California as well as a few localities in southern California; this particular specimen was photographed at the Regional Parks Botanical Garden in Tilden Park, Berkeley, California.

The reproductive stalk pictured above grows about 3-5 meters (10-16 feet) tall and typically only flowers once! Like most species of Agave, Agave shawii is semelparous, meaning the rosette typically dies after it flowers. Many agaves allocate upwards of 50% of the measureable energy stored within their biomass to forming the reproductive structure and nectar for the proliferation of flowers; Agave shawii can take up to 30 years or more to do so depending on environmental conditions. Though the reproductive process may kill the parent individual, many agaves take up insurance measures in the form of vegetative rosettes that often form on the roots or sometimes the reproductive stem before, during or after the reproductive cycle takes place (see: Arizaga et al. 1995. Insurance against reproductive failure in a semelparous plant: bulbil formation in Agave macroacantha flowering stalks. (PDF) Oecologia. 101:329-334.). Therefore, clones of the parent individual may survive for centuries--often in small colonies.

It should also be mentioned that this species is considered rare and endangered in its California distribution, and imperiled/vulnerable globally.

Dec 21, 2011: Agave tequilana

Agave tequilana

Today's photographs, from a couple different sites in Mexico, are courtesy of retired UBC Botanical Garden staff member, David Tarrant. I sent a request to David for images of Agave tequilana for the "Botany and Spirits" series, and he was glad to share. Thanks again, mi amigo--I wish I could have made a longer entry today from your photographs, but have run out of time today.

Unsurprisingly (given the scientific name), these blue agave (or agave azul) plants are being grown for the production of tequila. This gives us a presumptive clue as to the location of the photographs, as only plants harvested from the Mexican states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas can be used to generate the spirit marketed under that moniker. Tequila is a specific type of mezcal, and if I have misidentified these plants or identified them correctly but the plants are being grown elsewhere, then they are being used for the production of a different mezcal instead.

Dec 16, 2011: Agave attenuata

Agave attenuata

Today's image is courtesy of Priscilla Burcher (aka PriscillaBurcher@Flickr), and I believe this is the first time we've featured one of Priscilla's photographs on BPotD, so, thanks and welcome! The image was submitted via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool (original image).

As noted in Wikipedia, Agave attenuata is one of the few unarmed Agave species. While technically correct, it may be better to use the term "spineless" instead of unarmed, as the former provides additional information; most Agave have spines on the leaf margins (unarmed means lacking spines, prickles, or thorns).

Native to three Mexican states, Jalisco, México and Michoacán, Agave attenuata is associated with rocky outcrops in pine forests at elevations from 1900m to 2500m (6200 to 8200ft.). It is thought to be relatively rare in the wild. In cultivation, however, it is a popular ornamental in warmer climates, and I've seen it in several California public gardens. Many additional images of the species are available via the Plants of Hawaii web site: Agave attenuata, including one that makes me think unpleasant thoughts about others.

A few English common names are used for the species, including swan's neck agave, lion's tail agave and foxtail agave.

Aug 26, 2011: Cordyline australis

Today's entry was authored by Alexis:

Thank you to Tony Foster (Tonyfoster@Flickr) from the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool (image) and Kahuroa at Wikimedia Commons (image) for their photographs of today's species. Cordyline australis produces sweet-scented white flowers that bloom in October to December in the southern hemisphere. The flowers attract flies, which carry out pollination.

This species, also known as cabbage tree, is endemic to New Zealand. It is a common tree in New Zealand, found in a variety of habitats like "swamps, sand dunes, coastal scrub and forest margins, river banks and dry hillsides" (Newhook's Our Trees: A New Zealand Guide (1982)). It grows up to about 20m tall. Parts of the tree can be eaten and are rich in carbohydrates. Historically, Maoris made a porridge-type food out of the sun-dried pith and roots of young trees, and also used the trees as sources of fibre and medicine. Early European settlers found uses for Cordyline australis as well; they fashioned chimneys from the hollowed out trunks, which are fire-resistant, and made beer from the roots.

In 1987, Cordyline australis individuals of the North Island of New Zealand fell victim to a mysterious disease that caused sudden wilting, the falling off of leaves, and death within 3 to 12 months. This condition, simply known as "sudden decline", was later discovered to be caused by a phytoplasma parasite transmitted via an introduced sap-sucking insect.

Sep 13, 2010: Furcraea foetida var. mediopicta

Furcraea foetida var. mediopicta

Before the written part of today's entry, a couple comments re: BPotD: you'll likely have noticed fewer entries lately, as well as long load times / stalled loading of images. We've determined that the garden's web server is starting to fail, so I'm trying to minimize the load on the server while we work to replace it (and one way to do so is to reduce traffic to the site). Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to move the whole site to the new server until after I take a couple trips that I had planned months ago. I suspect BPotD will continue to be infrequently published until mid-October (and let's hope the server lasts until then).

This month's biodiversity series is about "Tropical Biodiversity". Thank you to mondomuse@Flickr (aka Robert S. of Venice, California) for sharing today's image via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Much appreciated!

Furcraea foetida, known in English as Mauritius-hemp, giant cabuya or green-aloe, is native to parts of the Caribbean and northern South America. Do note that despite the common names, it is neither an Aloe nor from Mauritius. It's not a hemp, either, though it is used economically for extraction of the natural fibre fique (aka cabuya). The export of species of Furcraea from Brazil by the Dutch to its then-settlement in Mauritius eventually led to that common names.

Furcraea is named after Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy,a French chemist and entomologist. Fourcroy was one of four French collaborators in the creation of a standardized chemical nomenclature.

For additional images of Furcraea foetida, see the extensive image collection of naturalized plants in Hawaii: Furcraea foetida.

Botany resource link: A loose follow-up to the Drosera anglica entry a couple weeks ago: "Meat-eating plants losing ground in U.S.", via The Seattle Times, about the decline of carnivorous plants due to development, poaching and suppression of wildfires.

Apr 18, 2008: Hesperocallis undulata

Hesperocallis undulata

We'll sneak in one more species from California before turning our attention to plants from other places in the world for a little while. Today's photograph is courtesy of Ron Long. Ron and I had a good conversation about our recent (separate) travels a couple days ago, after he completed his presentation on Namaqualand to the UBC Friends of the Garden. He also made a trip to California this year, but he went earlier and visited the deserts, particularly Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Thanks for sharing, Ron!

Commonly known as desert lily, Hesperocallis undulata was traditionally placed in the lily family. With molecular techniques, though, there is strong evidence for it to be placed in the agave family (via a circuitous route that saw it jump from the lily family to the daylily family to its own family to the asparagus family). Wikipedia has a summary of its taxonomic placement, along with a reference to the 2004 paper suggesting placement in the Agavaceae.

The Flora of North America entry for Hesperocallis undulata lists its distribution as California, Arizona and Nevada, where it grows in "dry, sandy flats to rocky hills of creosote bush scrub in [the] Mojave and Sonoran deserts". Desert lily is also noted as a food plant by the Plants for a Future database.

The epithet undulata, as you might expect, refers to the wave-formed leaf margins of the species, a feature prominently shown in many of the photographs at CalPhotos.

I have yet to see this plant in person, but I certainly look forward to the day!


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