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Agave xylonacantha (Saw Leaf Agave)


Scientific Name

Agave xylonacantha Salm-Dyck

Common Names

Century Plant, Saw Leaf Agave, Shark Tooth Agave


Agave amurensis, Agave carchariodonta, Agave heteracantha var. splendens, Agave hybrida, Agave kochii, Agave perbella, Agave splendens, Agave univittata var. carchariodonta, Agave vanderdonckii, Agave xylacantha

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave


This species is native to Mexico (Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato and Queretaro).


Agave xylonacantha is a succulent that forms a usually single rosette of thick, triangular leaves with light grey, irregularly-shaped spines along the margins and a long terminal spine. The rosette grows up to 1 foot (30 cm) tall and up to up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter. Leaves are up to 3 feet (90 cm) long, up to 4 inches (10 cm) wide, vary in color from yellow-green, silver-green, blue-green to olive-green, and have a lighter center stripe. Flowers are greenish to pale yellow and appear in spring on erect, unbranched, up to 11 feet (3.3 m) tall flower spike.

The specific epithet "xylonacantha" derives from the Ancient Greek words "xylon," meaning "wood or woods" and "akantha," meaning "thorn or prickle," and refers to the wood-colored spines.

Agave xylonacantha (Saw Leaf Agave)

Photo by César Romero

How to Grow and Care for Agave xylonacantha

Light: These plants require full sun to part shade. If you are growing Agaves indoors, choose a bright, sunny window with as much sun as possible. Agave plants love going outside from spring to fall.

Soil: Agaves will tolerate most soils as long as they have good drainage, but their preference is sandy or rocky soil.

Hardiness: Agave xylonacantha can withstand temperatures as low as 25 to 50 °F (-3.9 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b.

Watering: Mature plants are very drought tolerant. From spring to fall, water thoroughly your Agave when the soil mix becomes dry. In winter, water sparingly about once a month. Plants in containers require more frequent watering than those in the ground.

Fertilizing: Give your Agaves a small amount of fertilizer in the spring during the first two years.

Repotting: When the pot becomes full of roots, it has become pot-bound. If you notice your Agave becoming pot-bound, repot it with new soil in a new pot that is just slightly larger than the old one.

Propagation: Since it can take years to produce seeds, Agaves are usually propagated by offsets.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Agave.

Toxicity of Agave xylonacantha

Agave xylonacantha is not toxic to humans, but it may be mildly poisonous to children and pets.


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