Agave deserti

Common name: Desert Agave, Mescal, Century Plant

When my friend Hans and I hiked from June Wash to the Mud Palisades at the end of December 2019, we came upon an Agave deserti var. deserti (Mescal, Century Plant or Maguey) at the peak of its bloom. We were only on the way in but it was inevitable to stop the car for a few minutes to admire the plant and make photos of it. :)

On this thoroughly overcast day that felt so strangely silent (I mentioned it in my article with a few impressions from the hike), the sound of dozens of bees feasting on the nectar of the agave gave us an intensive feeling and appreciation for life in this sparse environment. You can see the many bees in my photos below. I exposed very much to the right and intensified the effect of an almost entirely white and blank background that the solid cloud cover provided while developing the photos.

According to CalFlora, the bloom period of Agave deserti is between May and July, but this does not match my own observations. I have previously seen and photographed it in bloom in February, and saw plants with plenty of buds in December and January as well. Now this one was in full bloom already, in December. It’s hard to say but I would guess that the timing of seasonal precipitation perhaps plays a big role in when those blooms happen.

Anyway, here are the photos. On small-screen devices like phones or tablets, you can just scroll down. On larger screens, you may also click on any image to open it in the slideshow gallery view – for the best effect, I suggest switching your browser to full-screen mode (Windows: F11, Mac: ^⌘F).

For the sake of completeness, here are more pictures of Agave deserti:

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5 thoughts on “Agave deserti”

  1. Back in the late 1970s, I brought back a single Desert Agave specimen from a roadside washout. I guess I sort of rescued it. I planted it up on Rattlesnake Mountain in El Cajon at the edge of some small granite boulder island and rocks where Mexican Elderberry & Laurel Sumac were already growing. This location was full sun on a fairly steep southern slope of Rattlesnake Mountain. It escaped the 1980 fire which devastated all plant life on the mountain from Santee all the way to Wintergardens. Over the decades I would periodically visit the spot where the single Desert Agave grew to large size with multiple pups eventually reach a colony diameter of 6′ in length and width. Never bloomed once until the Spring of 2006 when I left for Sweden on May 4th. I was so excited and it was beautiful. That stupid Sky Ranch Housing Development moved in and amazingly, they had put up sensitive area conservation tape on the eastern edge of the housing to prevent or warn people off from entering the area. The colony is still there but all the 30+’ tall Torrey Pines which were also included in the conservation area are now all gone due to the housing development residents taking offense to their extistence and used chainsaws to cut every one of them down to the ground. When I photographed the area, I was met by several residents who threatedned me for trespass and photographing. Whatever! But the Agave colony is still there and thrive. I have no idea if it has bloomed again. bit they are surrounded by a huge colony of San Diego Coastal Cholla which I rescued from a Santee housing development. The Cholla colony now has resident Cactus Wrens which never existed previously. I really miss Guerilla Landscaping.

  2. That’s a lot of bees! Makes you wonder how far they had to travel to get to this particular plant…

  3. So many treats here…I’m so far behind, I apologize. The white backgrounds are very effective. Beautiful details in those flowers, and the bees are a nice extra. The Teddy bear cholla pieces caught in the agave are amusing, but you also made that look beautiful, with the pale, soft colors. And that lone agave looks quite tough!


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