Agave bovicornuta

The Cow Horn Agave. I can’t think of another agave with this translucent quality to its leaves.
And the little “steer horns” (teeth) fire up in morning sun like burning coals heating a branding iron.


Do I really know anything at all about such cowboy matters as branding irons?
Only what I learn from my husband constantly alluding to the old cowboy shows of his youth, like “Rawhide,” whose theme song he knows by heart. And what I learn from checking in occasionally on that modern take on cowboy life, The Pioneer Woman blog, a powerhouse of marketing which I’d never even heard of until The New Yorker did a piece on it this past May. Always got my finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, yesiree. (Not!) The Pioneer Woman’s photography is stupefyingly good.

My little cow horn agave is growing up into a big beast, and the Irish guide lists 5 to 6 and a half feet as ultimate width. He grew to most of his current size, about 2X3 feet, in a container and was carefully moved into this position in the garden last year. And like all agaves in the landscape, it’s always catching some manner of schmutz on its horns — I mean thorns. Teeth, rather.

I really need to simplify this bit of garden in the fall, since the agave’s golden halo from slanting morning sun is obviously what’s important here. Most everything else is superfluous, especially that lanky aeonium and possibly even the *solanum grown as a standard which is responsible for all the schmutz. This agave reputedly doesn’t offset, flowering after 12 to 18 years, so it keeps that pure, lotus-like form to the end. Appreciates some shade in summer. From the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Sonora, and Chihuahua. Frost-tender.

*Typically, once I truly acknowledge where the problem is, there’s no lag time. Thought becomes action. In garden matters, anyway. Five minutes after I typed about its possible removal, the solanum standard is gone. Truthfully, there was a 5-foot tree covered in purple flowers behind the agave and aeonium when I woke up this morning, now headed for the shredder. But the aeonium stays for now.


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6 Responses to Agave bovicornuta

  1. I love the A. bovicornuta and it is such a photogenic creature, so much so that it’s the photo on the back of my plant lust business card!

  2. David says:

    You hit the jackpot! This IS on the very top of my FBI Most Wanted Agaves List. I tracked a full size speciman down for some horrid price and am now waiting for the 70% off sale at the end of the season. It doesn’t offset…EVER? Can’t you sprinkle some magic dust on them?
    I’ll tell you a horror story. I’ve had another non-offsetting Agave die back to the ground from a freeze, then come out with 3 or 4 babies from the still alive roots. I wouldn’t do such a thing to a bovi. Take good care of yours. It’s a treasure!
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston đŸ™‚

  3. Katherine says:

    I LOVE Pioneer Woman- yes her photos are great and her recipes are as well. Stumbled upon your blog- glad to have found it! Great photos and great reading!

  4. Denise says:

    Loree, David & Katherine, you got the jump on me! So nice to find your comments after showering from all that digging. David, all the references say this agave won’t pup, and mine certainly hasn’t. Get a small one. Mine’s been a fast grower. I don’t think mine is more than 3-4 yrs old, tops.
    Welcome, Katherine!

  5. Grace says:

    Looks fabulous juxtaposed with the Aeonium.

  6. Chris says:

    My bovi grew really fast too once it went in the ground. I love the mornings when the sunlight slants down the hill and lights it up.

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