Agave titanota (crush with eyeliner)

Let me change the holiday music channel, if ever so briefly, by sharing the soundtrack that plays every time I walk by this agave, my crush with eyeliner.


Agave titanota hybrid ‘Lanky Wanky’

A silly, last-round-at-the-pub name for a sideways-leaning hybrid of an elusive agave, an agave I’ve unknowingly owned for some years.


Here’s the real thing, Agave titanota.
This agave is famous for it’s pale white leaves, though I would argue that Agave celsii var. albicans ‘UCB’ may now hold that honor.


Agave celsii var. albicans ‘UCB’

Agave titanota has been one of my long-standing mystery agaves. While it gained size, growing nameless, anonymous, and let’s face it unloved, I occasionally pursued the legendary Agave titanota elsewhere, on eBay for example, where I was saddled with an impostor (who is now the new mystery agave). I didn’t know what my old mystery agave was, but it didn’t strike me as anything special. It took a long time to become smitten with Agave titanota, because it doesn’t form that tight, breathtaking, world-within-world form that I expect to admire in agaves. The sharkskin-like leaves jut out at odd angles, and I mistook its pale coloring for bleached-out sunburn. Its famous natural qualities I attributed to grower error. (Someone needs more reference books.)


Fortunately for me, this agave chugged along amidst all that neglect, forgotten in a rarely watered pot in full sun.
Agaves Yuccas and Related Plants” by Mary & Gary Irish helped with the final ID, as well as seeing a labeled A. titanota at a nursery recently. The similarity of the hybrid ‘Lanky Wanky’ also confirms the ID, and I love how its more congested form accentuates the black eyeliner on the leaf margins and spine tips. The new book on agaves, “Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers,” by Greg Starr, would be handy in a reference library too.

Agave titanota — still not a favorite, but no longer a mystery.

(Yeah, life is strange.)


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7 Responses to Agave titanota (crush with eyeliner)

  1. Wow, that certainly takes me back! Might have to go dig out the old cassettes (of course I still have them!).

    The first Agave titanota I had a chance to buy (in Nashville, TN, for 50% off) Andrew talked me out of because he was certain those dark edges (more like ‘Lanky Wanky’) were a sign of near death. I don’t know why I let myself be talked out of it when I was fairly certain he was wrong.

  2. Kaveh says:

    Agave celsii var. albicans ‘UCB’ is a favorite of mine. So pretty.

  3. Hoov says:

    Titanota in the ground down the road from here is breathtaking. I think yours needs out of the pot. ‘UCB’ is sweet! Want!

  4. Denise says:

    @Loree, that Monster got played a lot, didn’t it, so I’m stuck with lots of those songs. I’m not convinced titanota would be worthwhile for container culture, but see Hoov’s note below.
    @Kaveh, I’ve seen it on your blog too. It’s soft-leaved too, like attenuata. Should be seen more.
    @Hoov, I’d love to see that specimen. I’ve got a pup of titanota that you must have room somewhere to plant. And I need to get you that clump of Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline’ too. Maybe we could meet at Rogers after the holidays?

  5. Interesting that you found that elusive A. titanota right there in your own backyard, as it were. I’m a bit disappointed that mine doesn’t show much eyeliner, unless you are hearkening way back beyond REM to the pale, Mary Quant stuff. It isn’t very pale, either. The form is right, but I’m now wondering if mine really is A. titanota. ‘Lanky Wanky’ is a cute little chap with his blond streak.

  6. Hoov says:

    Rogers, it’s a date. I can find room for titanota no problem. Must get new photo of neighbor’s–drove past there today and it was in bloom and strung with Christmas lights.

  7. Hoov says:

    Plenty of room for titanota. Rogers’ great idea let me know. The neighbor’s is now in bloom and strung with Christmas lights. Must get new photo.

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