Agave xylonacantha near 6th & Fig

I have a lot of affection for Downtown LA, our underdog of a city center that lay fallow and forgotten for so many decades, its opulent old movie palaces abandoned or turned into dollar stores. It’s a boom town now, with brands like Urban Outfitters moving into those old movie palaces. I worked in DTLA in the decades pre-boom town, when there wasn’t a single grocery store for miles, when it emptied out at 5 p.m. like the zombies were coming with nightfall, and when the city and it’s beautiful but empty buildings (the Bradbury Building!) seemed to belong to me alone. I still work there quite often, now taking the Metro Blue Line from Long Beach to LA. Yes, contrary to popular opinion, we do have public transportation here in Los Angeles — just not enough yet. The trains to Santa Monica are slated to go online in spring 2016, and I can’t wait. Santa Monica and the west side of town are the worst commutes of all for me. Sitting in freeway traffic just seems like a crazily regressive way to start the 21st century, and I avoid it whenever possible.

But back to DTLA, where on Figueroa near 6th Street there’s this large planting of succulents that showcases some less frequently seen agaves, as far as public plantings go.

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Like Agave xylonacantha, with its high contrast, zig-zaggy leaf margins

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Backing Agave parryi var. truncata are enormous Kalanchoe beharensis, the size of small buffalos.
Nice touch to include some bromeliads. LA hasn’t really woken up to the potential of bromeliads yet in public landscapes.

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And as common as Agave parryi var. truncata is in private gardens, it too is rarely seen in commercial plantings around town. Mine at home send offsets several feet away.

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Aloe striata is widely planted.

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Agave guiengola ‘Creme Brulee’ is one of those agaves that can be hit or miss. If one of those big, asymmetric leaves becomes damaged, the effect is pretty much ruined.
These look to be in fairly good shape. With aeoniums in the foreground.

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10 Responses to Agave xylonacantha near 6th & Fig

  1. Kris P says:

    I worked downtown for 8 years, the last several based in what was the First Interstate Tower and is now the US Bank Tower, but I haven’t been back there now for 10 years so I expect I’d be very surprised by how it’s changed. I most definitely do not remember agaves, or much of anything in the way of plants. I’m glad to see that’s changed.

  2. Southern California, what can I say?

    That Agave xylonacantha looks a lot like my Agave horrida. I recently got two Agave xylonacantha from Greg Starr, and their teeth look much more wicked. There seems to be a lot of confusion about Agave xylonacantha. Not that I’m the expert on this particular group.

  3. Denise says:

    @Loree, you’re easy when it comes to agaves!
    @Kris, you wouldn’t recognize it now.
    @Gerhard, you’re right, it could be horrida. I should’ve titled this “no ID saw-toothed agave.”

  4. Tim says:

    Whatever it is, that saw-toothed Agave is spectacular! Those are some great plantings.

  5. hb says:

    I went to a Halloween party in the 1980s in the Bradbury building. There were a dozen guys all costumed like Kurt Rambis with the Lakers uniform and the black glasses taped together with white adhesive tape and big mustaches. They did a basketball passing and dribbling routine around each landing. That was one cool party. All around though LA downtown was a complete ghost town–most eerie Halloween ever. No plants, no plants at all. Cool stuff you found.

  6. Amy says:

    Agave xylonacantha is so beautiful!

  7. chela says:

    where can I buy Agave Xylonacantha email me at
    thank you!!

  8. Agaves of California says:

    That is Agave horrida, not xylonacantha

  9. Denise says:

    Thanks for the ID. Much appreciated!

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