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Products > Agave nickelsiae
Agave nickelsiae - King of the Agaves

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Agave nickelsiae
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Agavaceae (now Asparagaceae)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [A.ferdinandi-regis, A.victoriae-reginae forma]
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 10-15° F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Agave nickelsiae (King of the Agaves) - A stunning small slow-growing agave to 18 inches tall by as wide with an open rosette of stout triangular blue-green leaves having narrow longitudinal white bud imprints that usually form a triangle shape. The margins of the leaves are dark reddish brown and spineless terminating at the blunt leaf tip in a stout spine of the same color.

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. Very little to no irrigation required. Hardy to around 10° F. A very decorative attractive agave that makes and excellent potted or dry garden specimen.

This plant was long called A. ferdinandi-regis and considered to be a form or synonym of Agave victoriae-reginae as listed in Joaquin Thiede's treatment published in the first edition of Urs Eggli's Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants; Monocotyledons but in comparison with typical Agave victoriae-reginae it has a more open rosette with fewer and larger leaves, less bud imprinting and instead of silver colored margins has dark reddish brown edges. It also often has multiple small spines subtending the large terminal spine, a feature we have never seen on A. victoriae-reginae. The Agave victoriae-reginae race comes from the Mexican States of Coahuila, Durango and Nuevo León though the plants usually associated with this form come from the Saltillo area in Coahuila. The image used in Howard Scott Gentry's “Agave of North America” for Agave victoriae-reginae, taken at Saltillo with Agave asperrima (then called A. scabra), is of this form and Gentry notes that the neotype of Agave victoriae-reginae is from this area (Neotype Gentry, Barclay & Arguella 20043 DES, MEXU, US. 12-16 miles NE of Saltillo, Coahuilla, along the road to Monterey, June 10-July 5, 1963; elevation 4,000-5,000 feet, shrub and succulent desert on limestone). From a nearby site just northeast of Ramos Arizpe at 5100 feet in elevation, at a location sometimes referred to as “the chicken ranch”, collections were made of at least two naturally occurring hybrids with this "ferdinandi-regis" plant as one parent and Agave asperrima and Agave lechugilla as the other. The popular Agave 'Sharkskin' is one such hybrid with Agave asperrima – likely collected multiple times from this location. The plant called Agave x pumila another plant considered to be such a hybrid.

To further confuse the issue the species name of this plant is often spelled as “fernandi-regis” as this was how Gentry listed it (as a synonym with Agave victoriae-reginae) but Alwin Berger originally described the plant as Agave ferdinandi-regis in 1915 monograph “Die Agaven”. More recently in 2011 a team of Mexican botanists (Gonzalez-Elizondo, M.S.; Gonzalez-Elizondo, M.; Lopez-Enriquez, I.L., Resendiz-Rojas, L.; Tena-Flores, J.A. and Retana-Renteria, F.I.) revised this complex to now recognize four distinct taxa (3 species and one subspecies) with this form reverting back to the Agave nickelsiae, a name it was described as by the French botanist Robert Roland-Gosselin (1854-1925) in Revue Horticole 67: 579-580 in 1895. Roland-Gosselin named the plant in honor of Anna Nickels, a Texan plant collector who in the 1800's collected many plants in Mexico, including this plant that now bears her name. This name has priority since it predates Berger's name "ferdinandi-regis" by 20 years and so we now list it by this name but will likely always think of it as Agave ferdinandi-regis and we continue to list its common name as "King of the Agaves".

This plant is also sometimes marketed under the name Pinguino but we have no idea where this name comes from. Our plants from seed collected off of a plant that bloomed in the Santa Barbara garden of the late Jim and Sally Prine in March 2006 and we sold it for 5 years after this time but sadly longer have this sculptural plant it in production. 

This information about Agave nickelsiae displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.