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Agave shawii (Coastal Agave)


Scientific Name

Agave shawii Engelm.

Common Names

Coastal Agave, Shaw's Agave


Agave orcuttiana

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave


Agave shawii is a succulent that forms rosettes of green leaves with a variable pattern of marginal teeth and a terminal spine. The leaves are sword-shaped, up to 20 inches (50 cm) long, and up to 8 inches (20 cm) wide. The inflorescence forms a panicle that grows up to 13 feet (4 m) in height, whose 8 to 14 lateral flower clusters are subtended by large purple bracts. Each flower cluster consists of a mass of yellowish or reddish flowers. It generally blooms in spring, and as typical for Agaves, the rosette dies after that.

Agave shawii - Coastal Agave

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How to Grow and Care

Agave is not a difficult plant to grow. They're slow-growing and dramatic and will even thrive on a bit of neglect. If you're the type of person who likes to fuss with houseplants and water a lot, Agave is probably not the plant for you. If, however, you're the type of person who likes to set it and forget it, and you have a sunny window, Agave might the way to go. Be aware that some of the large varieties will eventually outgrow your room (unless you have a large greenhouse), and Agave can be aggressive. They have irritating sap and sometimes very sharp thorns that can injure small children and even pets.

In general, Agaves do not need to be repotted every year. Most of the species commonly found in cultivation grow very slowly and take a long time to outgrow their pot. It's also best to handle your Agave as little as possible since they do not like to be disturbed. See more at How to Grow and Care for Agave.


Man has been harvesting and utilizing Agaves for approximately 9,000 years. The huge plant comprised a huge part of primitive man's diet. Closely related to lilies, there are three major parts that are edible: flowers, stalks or basal rosettes, and the sap. Leaves are a lesser edible part of the plant. See more at Agave: Edible Plant.


Native to California coastal sage and chaparral habitats along the Pacific Coast of northern Baja California state of Mexico and southwesternmost San Diego County of California.


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