Agave parasana BergerAgave parasana comes from limestone mountains in Coahuila, Mexico. In this country such high altitude Agaves are almost hardy in the southern UK, but suffer from our wet winters. In fact this plant spent most of its life outside in our summer months (April-September) and under glass protected from frost for the other months. Two years ago in August (after just over 20 years) it decided to flower (the illustration shows the terminal inflorescense just starting). The flower stem continued to develop over winter and reached it full extent (about 7 feet) last year. It attracted many interested insects, eg hoverflies, bees but chiefly wasps. The nectar was so prolific that it fermented on the plant and emitted a pungent, rotting old socks, smell. The wasps were so delighted with the flowers by the time the third panicle opened that they built a nest close by. The plant stayed out all winter, too tall to get indoors, and this spring the wasps returned somewhat miffed to find no flowers left. The plant produced much seed which has proved to be fertile, but the plant died as it is monocarpic.
Agave victoria-reginae T.MooreAgave victoria-reginae comes from Huasteca canyon and adjacent areas just south of Saltillo, Mexico. It grows in profusion on the steep slopes and near vertical cliffs of the canyon walls. The individual rosettes grow up to four feet across. It grows well from seed forming attractive specimens. It will tolerate quite low temperatures, particularly when dry. A number of specimens have flowered in the UK at the age of between 20-25 years old. Regretably the plant being monocarpic it dies after flowering.