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Products > Furcraea bedinghausii
Furcraea bedinghausii
Image of Furcraea bedinghausii
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Agavaceae (now Asparagaceae)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Green
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [F. parmentieri, F. roezlii, F. longaeva, Hort.]
Height: 12-16 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F
Furcraea bedinghausii - A large succulent plant from central Mexico with long pliable glaucus blue-green leaves at the top of 4 to 12+ foot tall trunks (the tallest we have seen at around 30 feet). The rigid-looking yet flexible 3 to 4 foot long bluish-green leaves are at first erect then droop down and finally remain hanging on the trunk as a skirt but are sometimes skinned up by gardeners to be bare. When the plant reaches maturity, it blooms with flowers on an erect branched inflorescence that can reach to 25 feet above the foliage, but more commonly rises 12 to 15 feet and has pendant branch tips. This plant is monocarpic and declines after flowering, which may happen as young as 15 years old or 3 times this age, but after the flowers fade, hundreds to thousands of new plant bulbils are formed in the inflorescence. Usually, this flowering occurs once the plant has a sizeable trunk, but we have noted flowering on younger plants that have not developed a trunk.

This plant performs best in full sun (coastal) to part sun or light shade and requires little irrigation. It has proven hardy to at least short duration temperatures down to 25° F as was not damaged in the 3 nights down to this temperature in our January 2007 freeze. This Furcraea is very attractive and when large becomes a sculptural element in the garden. With its soft pliable leaves, it is also a much friendlier succulent than many similar looking Agave and Yucca plants.

Furcraea bedinghausii is endemic to the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in areas surrounding the valley of Mexico City and in the surrounding states of Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos and possibly Veracruz where it is considered to be a threatened species and studies on population genetic diversity indicate that it is likely reproduced by the bulbils in nature as opposed to from seeds. Since many sources listed Furcraea roezlii as a synonym with Furcraea bedinghausii, we opted to continue listing this plant for many years as Furcraea roezlii since it was the name that we originally received this plant as in the early 1980's from Ganna Walska Lotusland Botanic Garden, but in 2012 we switched to using the name Furcraea bedinghausii. In Peter Riedel's (1873-1954) Plants for Extra-Tropical Regions (published in 1957 three years after his death) Riedel credits the introduction of this plant into cultivation to the Italian botanist Dr. Francesco Franceschi (AKA Emanuele Orazio Fenzi) but Franceschi, in his survey of plants being grown in Santa Barbara when he arrived in 1895, noted that there were "a good many old specimens [of Furcraea bedinghausii] to be found in Santa Barbara and its environs". In Mary and Gary Irish's book "Agaves, Yuccas and Related Plants" Furcraea roezlii is described and said to differ from Furcraea bedinghausii because the latter has shorter leaves and a shorter trunk. William Trelease in his treatment of Furcraea in Stanley's 1920 Trees & Shrubs of Mexico maintained that Furcraea roezlii was distinct from F. bedinghausii, with more flared petals and longer (up to 2 meters) concave leaves that were often recurved. Joachim Thiede in his treatment in the Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons synonymized the two and further notes that Agave author Bernd Ullrich has suggested that Furcraea bedinghausii may be a subspecies of the closely related Furcraea longaeva (Ullrich B. 1991. El complejo Furcraea longaeva II. Cactáceas y suculentas mexicanas. Tomo XXXVI. No. 3. pp. 56-61).

We have also seen that several nurseries growing what appears to be the same plant but listing it as Furcraea longaeva. According to Abisaí J. García-Mendoza in his revision of the genus (García-Mendoza, A. (2000) "Revisión taxonómica de las especies arborescentes de Furcraea (Agavaceae) en México y Guatemala" in Boletín de la Sociedad Botánica de México (66: 113–129.) the names Furcraea roezlii and Furcraea bedinghausii are synonymous with Furcraea parmentieri, noting that Furcraea parmentieri should be the correct name for this taxon as it was first described as Yucca parmentieri by Roezl in 1859 and later as Beschorneria parmentieri by General Georg Albano von Jacobi (1805–1874), a Prussian military officer, author and botanist. García-Mendoza noted that a primary difference between Furcraea parmentieri and Furcrea longaeva, a Oaxacan species that is rarely in cultivation in the US, is that the former has glaucus foliage and produces bulbils in the inflorescence, while Furcraea longaeva has darker green foliage and does not produce bulbils.

The name Furcraea was given to this genus in 1793 by the French botanist Etienne Pierre Ventenat (1757–1808) to honor French chemist and politician, Antoine F de Fourcroy (1755-1809), who was the Director of the Jadin des Plantes in Paris. The name for which we originally associated this species, Furcraea roezlii, honored the botanist and explorer of Mexico, Benedikt Roezl, and in fact the group of soft leafed Furcraea were once grouped into a subgenus Roezlia by British botanist John Gilbert Baker. Roezl discovered this plant in 1857 growing on Mount Acusca (AKA Ajusco) south of Mexico City at an elevation of just over 13,000 feet, but he apparently did not describe or name it then. It was introduced in European gardens shortly after this date and received the name Furcraea bedinghausii to honor Hermann Joseph Bedinghaus, the Belgian gardener who first flowered a plant in Europe in 1863. To add further confusion, the genus has also previously been spelled Fourcroya. Knowing that multiple plant name changes can confuse both our staff and our customers, we continue to list this plant as Furcraea bedinghausii but acknowledge that the current name for this taxa is now considered to be Furcraea parmentieri. Common names for this plant reportedly include Furcraea, Cabuya, Fique, Maguey, Motua, Palmita and Dracaena de Bedinghaus. The main picture on our web site is taken at Madame Ganna Walska Lotusland, from where we initially received our plants. The plants in the foreground of this picture on this page are Agave franzosinii. We have offered this great plant in our catalogs since 1985 and are happy to have it back in good quantities thanks to landscape designer Lynn Woodbury, whose plant in the Santa Barbara foothills flowered and produced a multitude of bulbils in 2022. 

This information about Furcraea bedinghausii 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.