The latest new mystery in the century plant world is a plant that first showed up on a German seed vendor’s website in Fall 2022 under the name, Agave ‘Azul Monterrey’. It was touted on the site as a potential new species, which always generates lots of buzz in the agave collector world. Seed were collected in the karst mountains outside of Monterrey, Mexico, near the native habitat of the popular, winter hardy Agave ovatifolia. Below are our first crop of seedlings, which to us, indicate that it’s not a new species, but instead a group of hybrids, which occur where the range of two or more species overlap.
The first thing we noticed is the difference in the dorsal leaf surfaces. Of all the winter hardy agave species, all have smooth leaf backs, except for Agave asperrima, which has sandpaper-like leaves. Over 80% of these seedlings have scabrous leaf back, so there’s a very high probability that this is one parent. We know Agave ovatifolia is also in the area, which has much wider, smooth-backed leaves. The size of the seedlings are too large and the leaves are too flat to be straight Agave asperrima,, and appear to be what we would expect from a hybrid with Agave ovatifolia. The other interesting seedling ecotype are the small, dark green, glossy-leaf seedlings. These genetics appear to come from the nearby Agave montana, another high elevation species in the region. These plants will go in the ground this spring, as we continue the evaluation process, even the prospect of a hybrid swarm could yield some very exciting new clonal selections.