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Agastache, Agathosma and Agave. A-Z of plant genera.

Updated on November 25, 2015

Agastache, hoverfly on ' Blue Fortune' A cultivar


Agastache mexicana

Botanical Gardens of the Charles University Prague, Czech republic.
Botanical Gardens of the Charles University Prague, Czech republic. | Source


In this series A-Z of plant genera we review the species of plants both wild and cultivated forms that occur within specific genera. these plants grow in many countries all over the world. Where it is relevant horticultural tips are given .

The plants from the various genera are diverse in both form and size,many have been used for culinary or medicinal purposes. In this article we look at three genera,Agastache, Agathosma, and Agave. We commence with the genus Agastache.

Agastache is a genus of aromatic ,flowering plants in the Labiatae {Mint family},within the order of plants known as the Lamiales. They are herbaceous perennials,native to North America with the exception of one species which is native to Asia.

The genus name of Agastache derives from the Greek and indicates 'many spikes'. There are twenty two species in the wild and many cultivars.

The Mexican Giant Hyssop, Agastache mexican, is widespread across much of Mexico and the southern United States, and attains the height of three and a half feet,in its native state the foliage is somewhat nettle-shaped. Its young lemon-scented leaves are utilized in herbalteas and often used for flavouring foods.

The cultivar Agastache mexicana ,is sometimes found under the genus names of Brittonastrum or Cedronella, is an upright perennial up to three feet tall with a spread of about a foot. In summer it bears whorls of small,tubular flowers in shades of pink tocrimson. The leaves are oval,pointed., toothed and of a mid-green colour. They are half hardy and require well drained fertile soil in full sun. The plants are short -lived and should be propagated each year by soft wood or semi-ripe cuttings in the summer.

Agastache foeniculum

Ontario,Canada | Source

Agastache rugosa

Bupyung Korea
Bupyung Korea | Source

Agastache rupestris

Uploded to Commons via Xiaphias.
Uploded to Commons via Xiaphias. | Source

Agastache nepetoides. Catnip-Giant Hyssop


Other native species.

Agastache cana,is frequently referred to as the Texas Hummingbird Mint and Mosquito plant,among other common names it has been allocated.It is another erect perennial species that is native to New Mexico and western Texas,where it is encountered in mountainous habitat,at altitudes of up to six thousand feet.

They attain the height of two and a half to three feet with a spread of about two feet,and has a shrub-like habit. It is a profuse branching plant of a semi wooded structure.The foliage is ovate,green-grey and aromatic. The flowers are arranged in spikes that tower above the foliage,of a pink colour and composed of five fused petals to form a tubular bloom arranged in whorls among dense spikes. The fruits are four,dark,hard nutlets. They flower June until September.

Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers as are butterflies. The dried petals and foliage are used in herbal teas. In the USA in particular it is utilized as an ornamental garden species.

Agastache rupestris, is known by the common names of Licorice mint, or the 'Thread-leaf Giant Hyssop',and it is a native to the mountains of Arizona,New Mexico and Chihuahua Mexico. It is a plant that thrives in dry,nutrient poor soil,its orange flowers bloom from mid-summer until Autumn.

Agastache rugosa,is also referred to as the Korean Mint,among other common names.It is sometimes given the scientific name of Lophanus rugosa,and is a plant that has been used both for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Agastache foeniculum, commonly called Anise-hyssop,among many other common names. It is a perennial native to much of north Central America and northern North America,notably on the Great Plains,and also parts of Canada.

It grows two -four feet tall with a spread of about a foot. It is a semi-woody plant producing flowers in false whorls. They are bright lavender coloured blooms which appear from June until September. It is another species that has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes,especially so by the North American Indians.The flowers attract bees that produce a light fragrant honey from the nectar.

All other species have similar characteristics and requirements.

Agathosma betulina

Kohler's Medizinal Pflanzen Via Wikipedia.
Kohler's Medizinal Pflanzen Via Wikipedia. | Source

The genus Agathosma

Agathosma, is a genus of around one hundred and forty species of plants belonging to the Rutaceae family within the order of plants known as the Sapindales.They are native to the southern parts of Africa, and are known also by the common names of Buchu,Boegoe and Bucco,among others.

They are esteemed for their fragrance and for their medicinal uses. they are small shrubs and sub-shrubs. In general they have erect woody stems,reaching the height of about three and a half feet tall. However, some species are prostrate or low growing. The foliage is usually arranged opposite to each other and often crowded,they are simple and entire. many of the species are aromatic and the genus name of Agathosma indicates 'Good Fragrance',some of the species are used medicinally.

The species Agathosma betulina ,sometimes found under Barosma betulina, in older books, is a flowering species of the Rutaceae family and is native to the lower elevations in the mountains of western southern Africa, often found growing near to streams. It is an evergreen species attaining the height of up to two metres. The foliage is arranged opposite to each other and the leaves are less than half an inch long and broad,with finely toothed margins,the veins are prominent beneath. The general form of the leaf is a rounded shape.

The flowers have five petals which are white to pale pink,which are succeeded by a five-parted capsule which splits open to release the seeds when they are ripe. It is sometimes referred to by the common name of 'Round-leaf Bucho',and is one of the species that has been used in herbal medicine for a variety of disorders.

Agathosma crenulata

Slopes of Helderberg
Slopes of Helderberg | Source

Agathosma crenulata

Western Cape South Africa.
Western Cape South Africa. | Source

Agathosma crenulata.

Agathosma crenulata ,previously Barosma crenulata, is also native to the lower elevations on the mountains of South western Africa,and it also occurs near streams in their favoured habitat of natural scrub-land or heath-land vegetation.

It is an evergreen shrub growing up to one point five to two point five metres tall. The foliage is oval and arranged opposite to each other along the stems,they are about three quarters of an inch broad. The beautiful small ,white to pink flowers are borne in loose clusters along the stems and they are succeeded by the fruit,a five parted capsule that splits to release the seeds when they are ripe. The flowers are fragrant and attract nectar feeding insects. It has also been used medicinally to treat ailments such as urinary disorders.

The cultivars are a genus of evergreen shrubs grown for their flowers and overall appearance.However, they are frost tender and require a minimum temperature of five to seven degrees C.{41.5 F}. They require full sun and well drained acid soil. Those that are grown in containers need to be watered moderately,but less so when not in full growth. They may be propagated by semi-ripe cuttings in the summer.

Agathosma apiculata

Riversdale region of South Africa.
Riversdale region of South Africa. | Source

Agathosma pulchella and Agathosma apiculata.

Agathosma pulchella, formerly Barosma puchella, is an evergreen, rounded,wiry,aromatic shrub,with a height and spread of about three feet. They produce a dense mass of small oval,leathery leaves and small five petalled purple flowers, which are freely produced in terminal clusters,during spring and summer.

Agathosma apiculata,is often referred to as the garlic Buchu,an indigenous shrub,up to a metre and a half tall and slightly less in width. It is an evergreen shrub with an erect habit and a garlic-like odour is released when any part of the plant is crushed. The foliage is quite vibrabt,but very small and it produces white flowers which have a long flowering period.

It is best suited to coastal conditions in a sandy soil with full sun. The cultivar is used to attract butterflies,to add colour to the garden and landscaping in seaside conditions.

Agave americana


The genus Agave

Agave is a genus of perennials in the Asparagaceae family within the order of plants known as the Asparagales, and there are over two hundred species. Many are native to Mexico but also to the southern and western United States,and central and tropical South America.

These are succulent plants that produce large rosettes of thick,fleshy leaves,each ending, usually, in a sharp point and with spiny margins.It is probably best known for producing the plants from which tequila is made,and some species are referred to as the Century Plant. It is often said that Agave are Cacti, but this is false and the genus is more closely related to Aloe which has similar foliage , another related genus is the Yucca. Various species of Agave are utilized as ornamental plants.

The cultivars are a genus of rosetted perennial succulents that have sword -shaped, sharp-toothed leaves. The small species up to one foot tall the tall species up to fifteen feet tall or more . Many of them only flower after twenty to forty years. Most species with hard blue grey leaves are half hardy , the grey -green ,or green leaved varieties are frost tender with a minimum temperature requirement of five degrees C {41 F }. They require full sun and very well drained soil. They may b propagated by seed or offsets during the spring and summer.

Agave americana native species in flower


Agave americana cultivar 'Marginata'.


Agave americana.

Agave americana, is a spiny succulent up to three.five metres tall with succulent,lance-shaped leaves formed in rosettes. The greyish-green foliage is adorned with spiny teeth up to half an inch long, the terminal spines up to two inches long. The flowering structure, is much branched and in its native Mexico may attain the height of up to nine metres. The flowers are yellow up to four inches long, borne in clusters on the flowering branches. The fruits are up to two inches long and are oblong with a short beak at the tip. The seeds contained inside are many and black.

The cultivar is a basal rosetted, perennial,succulent up to the height of six feet or more with a spread of six to ten feet. The branched flowering stem may attain the impressive height of twenty five feet,and bears dense tapering spikes of bell-shaped flowers, white to pale ,creamy yellow in colour. Each one being three and a half inches long. They are produced during spring and summer. They produce offsets freely.

The native plant is some times referred to as the 'Century plant', through the misleading fact that they only flower in a hundred years of growth. In actual fact, they flower in twenty to forty years and then it dies. They have been introduced to many parts of the world where growing conditions are favourable,a sunny climate and well drained soil. They are pollinated by insects and Hummingbirds.

This species of Agave has the ability to produce suckers and hardy underground stems {rhizomes},which make it capable of becoming a threat to native species,indeed it is classed as being invasive in many dry land areas of the world,and because of its size can change the look of the landscape considerably,where it becomes established.

Agave americana 'marginata', is a variegated cultivar

Agave attenuata

Chanticleer Garden
Chanticleer Garden | Source

Agave utahensis


Agave wocomahi


Other Agave natives and cultivars

Agave attenuatus, is a succulent with a thick stem crowned by a rosette of sword-shaped leaves,spineless and of a pale green coloured leaves. The arching flowering stem is up to five feet long,and is densely covered with yellow flowers during the spring and summer. The height of the foliage is about three feet high with a spread of up to six feet. The minimum temperature requirement is five degrees C { 41 F }. They also require full sun and a very well drained soil.

Agave parryi,the cultivar is a basal rosetted perennial,succulent with stiff,broad, grey green leaves each up to twelve inches long,with a solitary ,dark spine at its pointed tip. The flower stem up to twelve feet long,bearing creamy yellow flowers during the summer. The foliage rosette about twenty inches in height,with a spread of up to a mere three feet. The temperature and growing conditions as the previous species.

Agave utahensis, is basal rosetted,perennial,succulent with rigid blue-grey leaves each with spines up the margins and a long dark spine at the tip. The flower stem up to five feet long, carrying yellow flowers during the summer. The foliage clump from nine inches to a foot,with a spread of six feet. The minimum temperature requirement s for this species is naught degrees C {32 F }, in very well drained soil.

Agave victoriae-reginae { Royal Agave}, is a cultivar which is slow growing,a domed perennial,succulent with a basal rosette of spineless, white striped and edged leaves. The flower stem can attain the height of twelve feet and bears cream coloured flowers during the spring and summer. They flower after twenty to thirty years. The foliage clump height is around two feet with a similar spread. The minimum temperature required for this species is five degrees C {41 F.}.

Other species [Images only }include Agave colarata, Agave angustifolia, Agave gentryi and Agave wocomahi.

Agave victoriae-reginae

Taken around Washington DC.
Taken around Washington DC. | Source

Agave gentryi


Agave colarata


Agave angustifolia



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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hi Deb, glad you enjoyed have a shot of tequila on me lol. Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I do so enjoy the unusual succulents. At least now I know where tequila comes from.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      cat on a soapbox,

      Hi Catherine, hope all is well in your part of the world. Glad you enjoyed this one and in know how much you enjoy your garden and its inhabitants. Thank you so much for visiting it is appreciated. Best wishes to you.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      3 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Dave,

      Beautiful hub! Agaves are the shining stars of many drought tolerant landscapes these days in So. California. Always the stand-outs in succulent gardens, they are quite versatile in other combinations too. I am a cottage garden fan who favors reseeding perennials, fragrant herbs, and heat- tolerant specimens which attract pollinators. Agastache is one of my favorites! The newer pink and peach, even yellow, varieties are lovely and fragrant, yet the purple is still favored by the bees and butterflies in my garden. I'm not familiar with Agathosma. It is not a common plant here. Thank you for sharing such well-researched information!

      Happy holidays:)

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hello Devika, I thought you would enjoy these plants with spending part of your life in South Africa. And thank you so much for stopping by again. You are appreciated. Best wishes to you.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Loved this hub had to stop by again!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Extraordinary flowers and plants. South African plants are amazing! I admire your hard work shared on HP. Tweeted!

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Sally,

      I thought of you when I was writing about Agave's in South Africa. It is of course horses for courses spectacular plants but not for the faint hearted. Best wishes to you.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      3 years ago from Norfolk

      Hi Dave

      Nice to see so many plants which I am familiar with, having grown up in South Africa where Agave plants were rife, used mainly in for the manufacture of Sisal or Hemp. These plants make striking focal points in the garden but are certainly to be avoided if you don't want to be pricked by the thorns:)

      Best wishes,



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