P90403In this situation, the point is that all those pointed tips of the leaves of this awkwardly floppy century plant, Agave americana, are extremely sharp, extremely rigid and EXTREMELY dangerous. Those shorter teeth on the margins of the leaves are just as sharp and rigid, and are curved inward to maximize injury to anyone trying to get away from an initial jab. With tips that impale, and marginal teeth that slash, this is one very hateful perennial!

Another point is that this big and awkwardly obtrusive century plant is on a patio at a Mexican restaurant. Yes, it is in a public place where people get dangerously close to it. On Friday and Saturday nights, this restaurant can get quite crowded. Some within such crowds are inebriated, so are more likely to stumble about and bump into things that are best avoided. Those concrete slabs to the left are benches where people are often seated.

The third point is that the only remedy for this ridiculously bad situation is to remove the century plant. Chopping the leaves like those that were over the bench on the left only removes a few tips and teeth, but does not make the rest of the foliage significantly safer. Nor does folding the leaves inward, like those that are next to those that were chopped. Such abuse only makes the whole mess uglier. Now it is both dangerous AND ugly.

Now, who thought that putting the most dangerous of all perennials available into this public situation was a good idea?! (Cacti with inward curving spines and other plants that are more dangerous are not even available in nurseries.) Century plants are dangerously nasty even when small and young, so even someone who knows nothing about landscape design should have known better than this!

12 thoughts on “Horridculture – What’s The Point?

  1. I wonder if someone was trying to get clever: as in “oh let’s put the plant that tequila comes from there. It’s a nice piece of atmosphere.” One of the patrons obviously didn’t think so. It looks as if someone tried to put a cigarette out on one of those spiky leaves!


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    1. It happens to be a common feature at Mexican restaurants,and there is another restaurant in Scott’s Valley that is outfitted with two big specimens flanking the doorway! The Tequila agave was a brief fad here, but it was not as sculptural as the century plant.


    1. I sort of like them off in the distance. They are spectacular where they grow wild in the rocky shores of Alcatraz. My colleague in the Los Angeles region needed to remove some from one of his job sites, and they have been getting recycled back into new landscapes for years. The problem is that just a few pups go a long way. Even landscapes that can accommodate them can not accommodate more than just a few.

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  2. I have lots of these but they are down in my wood and can’t really do anyone any harm. I tend to saw off the flopping leaves once a year and leave the plants with only the directly vertical growth.

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  3. I’m fighting a Yucca that I tolerated until it bloomed once. It bloomed. I took a photo. Now I’m working or eradication. It stabs me and draws blood whenever I get close to it. This plant frightens me even more.

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    1. Do you know what species of yucca it is? The most popular giant yucca here does not stab anyone, but is big, with huge distended trunks in maturity, and is difficult to kill. Yucca recurvifolia is also very resilient. I am very fond of yuccas, but there are not many situations in which they would work well.


      1. My guess is Yucca recurvifolia. It is blue-green with leaves a foot to 2 feet long and has a single trunk. It grows well and reproduces itself easily. It was here when I bought the property nearly 25 years ago, though, so I am not certain. I just know that if I miss the smallest sliver of it in the ground, a plant will appear. I like the way it looks—just not the way it behaves.

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      2. Unfortunately, that is one of the most difficult to kill. All of the stolons must be removed to prevent it from regenerating. It is possible to kill it by cutting it down and then removing all new foliage that tires to emerge afterward, but it takes a very long time and diligence. If the foliage is not removed immediately, it quickly stores resources to survive and regenerate again. It is important to not allow it to do so while it slowly wears itself out.


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