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Agave shawii

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About Coastal Agave (Agave shawii) Agave shawii is an agave found only along the Pacific coast of Baja California, extending slightly north into the coastal chaparral of southernmost California. It is a small-to-medium agave, with green ovate leaves 20-50 centimeter long and 8-20 centimeter wide, and a variable pattern of marginal teeth. Individual rosettes flower after 20-30 years of growth, after which that rosette dies. The flower cluster forms a panicle 2-4 meters in height, whose 8-14 lateral umbels are subtended by large purple leaves. Each umbel consists of a mass of yellowish or reddish flowers. It produces numerous offsets or pups which form a large thicket.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Shrub, Succulent

Max. Height
6.6 - 13.1 ft (2 - 4 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)

Fountain, Spreading

Growth Rate


Large, thick, succulent. The juice is caustic - avoid contact. The terminal and marginal spines are extremely sharp and can cause painful injury. Leaf edges are colored red-orange or purple. Each leaf bears the imprint of the marginal teeth of neighboring

Flower Color
Yellow, Red

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Bluffs and slopes or rocky mesas; produces many offsets and tends to spread laterally; can form large, impenetrable patches


Elevation ?
0' - 314'

Annual Precip. ?
9.5" - 11.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.18" - 0.31"

Coldest Month ?
54.1° F - 56.5° F

Hottest Month ?
69.3° F - 72.8° F

Humidity ?
1.82 vpd - 14.67 vpd

Soil Description
Often rocky and low in organic material

Soil Texture

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 25° F

Companion Plants
California Encelia, Bushrue, Chamise, Cliff Spurge, Box Thorn, San Diego Bursage, Jojoba, Sea Dahlia, and various Cacti

Wildlife Attracted
The plant attracts wildlife primarily when in bloom which is infrequent for individual rosettes. It is most attractive to insects and nectar eating birds. In the wild, small mammals use agave thickets for protection.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Rarely Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Prune only when necessary, and use extreme caution. Avoid all skin contact with the sap. Handle leaves with care - spines are very sharp.

Pest Control
None needed

Propagation ?
May be propagated from offsets, but extreme caution is needed due to the dangerous spines..  For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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