Name that succulent

On the way home from getting my hair shorn professionally (by the excellent Gerardo, of the Cardinal Barbershop just up the street from me — in a shop with most of the original furnishings from 43 years ago, including Gerardo) — past some drought-conscious plantings alongside Palo Alto City Hall: a plantation of gray-green succulents that looked remarkably like artichokes. At home, searching on “succulents that look like artichokes”, I got a huge pile of references to various Agave species, especially Agave parryi (common name “artichoke agave”!), and two of its varieties, var. truncata:

  (#1)

and var. huachucensis (with somewhat tighter “heads” than truncata):

(#2)

supplier’s description of truncata:

The aptly named artichoke agave is easily one of the most distinctive and attractive agaves [from on the order of 200 species] you can add to your collection. Because it’s found only in the Mexican state of Durango, we encounter this compact variety more often in cultivation than in its natural habitat. It forms a tight rosette of rigid grey-green leaves that are short and wide, each with a contrasting reddish-brown margin that gives way to numerous teeth and a stout black terminal spine.

And another supplier’s description of huachucensis:

Artichoke Agave ( Agave parryi var. huachucensis ) [named after the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona; the name of the mountain range comes from a Native American name]

A compact freely suckering rosette forming succulent with broad short gray leaves with prominent brown terminal spines. Individual plants are 18 inches to 2 feet tall by 2 to 3 feet wide with the sucker growth produces dense clumps. When mature a flower spike rises 10 to 20 feet bearing lemon yellow flowers tinged with pink. Flowering usually occurs in summer. Plant in full sun. Requires very little to no irrigation in coastal gardens. Hardy to around 15 degrees. This agave from South-eastern Arizona south to Chihuahua is attractive massed in the succulent garden as a large scale groundcover or in large pots.

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