Origin and Habitat: Mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert in the Sierra Madre Oriental, northern Mexico, in the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo León.
Altitude range: 2,950-5,575 ft (900 and 1,700 m) above sea level.
Habitat: Spectacular spider-like clumps of Agave bracteosa grows plastered on sheer vertical limestone cliffs and rocky slopes. The plants grow in small cracks in the solid limestone face mostly on the north-and northeast-facing side. This species can tolerate some cool, and foggy days.
Description: Agave bracteosa, also known "spider agave" or "squid agave", is a solitary or clumping rosette. Small among the agaves, its green succulent leaves are long and lanceolate, 50-70 cm long and 3-5 cm at the base, where they are the widest. It forms clusters to 1,2 m across. Variegated forms occur.
Rosette: Openly spreading, small to medium sized from a very short aboveground leaf axil (stem). In its native habitat Agave bracteosa rarely exceeds 30-45 cm of height and 45-60 cm in diameter, individual rosettes have a graceful urn-like shape formed by a relatively few upright leaves leaves that grow up and curve out and down. In habitat, plants usually have just one or two small offsets, but in the garden they will produce numerous offspring and form a 1.5-1.8 meter diameter mass of vegetation.
Leaves: Medium green or yellow-green, smooth and soft, lanceolate, convex in the lower third, 40-60(-70) cm long and 2.5-5 cm wide near the base and tapering to the tip, with minute serrations (teeth) along the margins, but no teeth nor spine both along the edge and at the tip. The They are upright and recurved above the middle (fountain like), in a fashion reminiscent of the octopus agave Agave vilmoriniana.
Inflorescence: The inflorescence is a short. The unbranched, ascending to erect spike flower stalk is 1.2-1.8(-2.4) m tall, comines in early summer, and its upper third is so densely covered with creamy yellow flowers flowers that it resembles a bottle brush.
Flowers: 22-26 mm long, with white to pale yellow tepals. The flowers are distinctive in that tepals arise from a disk-shaped receptacle rather than the usual tube. Ovary spindle-shaped is 12-14 mm long. The stamens are quite long (50-60 mm long) and protrude significantly above perianth.
Systematics: Agave bracteosa is closely related to Agave ellemeetiana and Agave guiengola, all them share the discoid receptacle and unarmed leaves and are different enough from other agaves.
Cultivation and Propagation: Agave bracteosa is an excellent choice for growing in a container. Remains small and grows slowly, very slowly offsetting and forming a large colony of plants. Plants develop their most interesting forms when grown in filtered sun. Solitary specimens are particularly beautiful.
Growth rate: The growth rate varies with the amount and frequency of supplemental water applied, but in general plants are moderate to slow growing.
Soil: As with most of the species, this one is not very particular about the type of soil it is in as long as it has good drainage.
Hardiness: Can tolerate extremes of both cold 18°F (-8°C) and scorching heat.
Exposure: Agave bracteosa can tolerate full sun, but it is best to grow in light shade in summer to prevent yellowing, It grows particularly well under the shade of small trees.
Water requirements: It is drought tolerant, although Agave bracteosa will respond to supplemental water and is more moisture tolerant than most agave.
Landscape value: It's unique form and tolerance to varied environments makes it an excellent choice for landscape projects. It can be placed on patios, near entryways, or in other spots where the plant would be highly visible. In the ground, use this beauty under the shade of small desert trees, mix into cactus and succulent gardens.
Propagation: This monocarpic plant can be propagated by seed or suckers. It offsets freely and the pups can be removed and repotted or planted elsewhere.
"Agave bracteosa" Text available under a CC-BY-SA Creative Commons Attribution License. www.llifle.com 14 Nov. 2005. 06 Mar 2021. </Encyclopedia/SUCCULENTS/Family/Agavaceae/315/Agave_bracteosa>