Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Century Plant
Agave angustifolia 'Marginata'

Family: Agavaceae (ah-gav-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Agave (a-GAH-vee) (Info)
Species: angustifolia (an-gus-tee-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Marginata
Additional cultivar information: (aka Variegata)

20 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Cactus and Succulents

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Dark Purple/Black

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is monocarpic
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium
From bulbils

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 33 photos.
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9 positives
3 neutrals
7 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive jerrytate On Nov 12, 2011, jerrytate from Lake Charles, LA wrote:

beautiful and fast growing.

Positive jerrytate On Oct 10, 2011, jerrytate from Lake Charles, LA wrote:

extremely fast growing and beautiful. here in s.w. louisiana, from a 4" big box purchase to a full 1x1 sphere with suckers in 7 months.

Neutral sugarmae On Jun 5, 2011, sugarmae from Hancock, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

I was watching the 1951 scifi movie, "the thing from another world", and it was mentioned that the century plant eats mice. Is this true?

Negative IMAMano On Nov 22, 2010, IMAMano from Scottsdale, AZ wrote:

Use caution when trimming or removing as the sap can cause considerable pain, itching and blistering when it gets on your skin as I learned two days ago.
After using a chain saw to remove and/or trim several plants my forearms began to itch causing me to rub them with the leather gloves I was wearing for protection from the sharp spines. My arms instantly began to burn in the worst way.
A combination of a shower, first-aid spray and Benedryl brought some relief but today both arms are covered in red blisters. Very unpleasant!

Negative TexasPuddyPrint On May 16, 2010, TexasPuddyPrint from Edinburg, TX wrote:

This plant might be pretty to look at but I found out what a demon it is! Talk about the pain of hell and being on fire! YIKES!!! I had a friend cut back one that was growing in the back alley by my fence gate. I had no problem moving piling up the leaves but when I got the hose to rinse out the pole saw that debris splashed over my hands and arms. Talk about instant pain! My arms and hands were itching and burning! It felt 100 times worse than when you handle fiberglass! This reminds me getting zapped by an asp caterpillar!!!

I jumped into the shower and then applied some hydrocortisone cream. Relief at last!

It was only today that I googled for century plant allergies that I came upon the Dave's posts. Wish I'd known about it earlier!!! I had no idea this plant was such a demon! UGH!!!

Negative portorangeflorida On Apr 14, 2010, portorangeflorida from Port Orange, FL wrote:

I didn't know anything about this plant before I tried to prune it with a chainsaw. What a mistake. My legs and stomach were covered with an instant burn and soon after red and blisters. I have looked and looked for some answers to help ease the pain and a remedy but not much luck other than 4 weeks to heal. Any help or information would be greatly appreciated. I live in the Daytona Beach, Florida area.

Neutral rancherrich On Oct 26, 2009, rancherrich from Austin, TX wrote:

I have Agaves in my front yard and at my ranch where i am cultivating them for sale. I actually really like the plants. They are easy to grow and maintain. Beware of Agave beetles, however. They can devastate a stand of plants in a matter of days! I found only one place in the US that sells the granules that will kill the beetles and it was in PA of all places.
Caution: do not "trim" the leaves with a chainsaw unless you are covered from head to toe. I used a chainsaw to trim some leaves that were posing a potential hazard to pedestrians in front of my home and the sap got on my arms (the only uncovered part of my body) and within 10 minutes my arms were ON FIRE! I scrubbed thoroghly, took some Benadryl and still got a few small blisters. According to the Internet, the sap contains oxalate crystals and saponins, a substance that, when contacted with skin, can cause vascular damage!!

Positive mikey51h On Dec 26, 2008, mikey51h from Palm Coast, FL wrote:

This plant will grow just about anywhere there is at least 5 hours of full sun and in a relatively dry location with good drainedge, growing at a moderate rate to about 3-4 feet high and about the same in width when fully mature. It will do well if applied with a well balanced fertilizer (12-12-12) 1 to 2 times per month during the spring and summer. Cold tolerant down to about 30. Will send out pups for easy propagation. I find this to be an exceptional decorative and ornamental plant. However, the only downfall is its spines and very sharp leaf tips. Some people find the sap to be toxic. Use care and caution when handling and transplanting. Thick leatherpalm gloves up to the elbow is a good choice.

Negative jckristafer On Mar 19, 2008, jckristafer from San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Agave is a beautiful plant, but be careful! My mother recently cut some down with a chain saw, only to find that that she is very allergic to its juice. Some splattered on her legs and very quickly it began to burn, and eventually blistered.

Positive nme On Sep 23, 2007, nme from Annandale, VA wrote:

I was born and raised in a house where this plant grew. Our soil was lakebed sand. This plant grew behind our carport for the 18 years I lived there and grew to about 10-12'. It was a very pretty plant, but you really had to respect it. The spines are very sharp, as well as the edges of the leaves. The sap is also very smelly.

When I was 18, after living with this plant my entire life, suddenly a stalk shot up from the center of the plant, growing 30' high in a few weeks! A few more weeks, and we had 30' high flowers towering over our carport. On of the most spectacular things I have ever seen from a plant in my life.

A few months later, the plant died and sprouted several pups.

Positive cacti_lover On May 3, 2005, cacti_lover from Henderson, NV (Zone 9b) wrote:

I don't seem to have problems with this plant either. It grew quite fast in the past three years, but only produced two pups. I cut one out to plant in another area, but it was slow to react. It can get frost-bitten, but usually recovers if the damage is not too extensive. I had another planted on my front yard that died due to freezing temperatures, so they are not very cold hardy. Still, they are beautiful plants that seem to behave well in my yard.

Positive ForrestGump On Jan 26, 2005, ForrestGump from Melbourne, FL wrote:

I think this plant is fascinating. The little suckers are easy to pull up from the ground by hand, roots and all. Just stick them in the ground somewhere and they will take root. I usually don't even water the suckers after ripping them from the ground, and they STILL take root and grow - even in sand. When God designed this plant, He really designed a tough one.

Positive Xenomorf On Aug 26, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have had no problems with this being invasive here in zone 9a. Don't know about other zones. It grows slower than some of my other agaves. Handsome looking plant.

Positive TucsonJen On Jul 11, 2004, TucsonJen from Tucson, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

The one at my old house finally bloomed, died, and tipped over. It was glorious. It produced only a handful of adjacent offspring which were easily transplanted to our outer desert or given to friends. Removing the dead plant was a chore due to its size but we had no problem with it beyond the exercise involved. We've planted a new one by the pool at our new home and it's quite dramatic. It has already produced offspring right next to it that I will move out a to a bare patch in the desert as soon as the monsoons loosen up the soil for me. I'm actually happy to see them! My husband and I are not allergic to the sap, thank goodness!

I hadn't known to worry about it spreading into the rest of the cactus garden and I'm hoping its roots won't tunnel out of its confined area and out under the deck!

acbgallery - If you are allergic then you may want to pay someone to dig it out for you - or chain it to a truck and pull it like a tree trunk. You have a pretty darn serious allergy and it's also risky that you toddler may, too!

Positive Xenomorf On Jul 5, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Beautiful plant. Seems to be well behaved. The ones I've seen & the one in my yard don't seem to be invading anything.

Negative acbgallery On Jun 11, 2004, acbgallery from Austin, TX wrote:

This plant is a horror. I live in Texas and planted the century plant not knowing what a big mistake this was. It has spread and I tried to chop it and the sap gave me a severe allergic skin reaction and difficulty breathing. I want it out of my garden as I have a toddler but having not much luck. Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated. I have two palm trees next to it so I don't want to kill them by spraying any chemicals. Is there any way to inject the plant or any other way to rid of it and kill it once and for all? Uprooting it is very very difficult. I have been searching the internet for answers over weeks, this plant is deadly.

Neutral amorning1 On Apr 23, 2004, amorning1 from Islamorada, FL wrote:

Getting impaled by the spines are extremely painfull.

I dig a hole , insert a big clay pot and then bury, this will contain this demon, this method also works well with snake plant aka mothers in law's tounge.

Negative Vero191 On Nov 1, 2003, Vero191 from Lillian, AL wrote:

This agave has spread all over and I agree it will come up near the base of other plants and it's hard to remove..I also thought it was a pretty agave but didn't know the growth habits of the plant. Lesson learned find out the growth habits of a plant before planting it.....I must admit it is a pretty agave...and hard to resist if you see it at a nursery

Negative palmbob On Aug 19, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This was a cute little Agave I bought at a local succulent sale one year- attractive, slightly spiny at the time and had a nice variegation. Nothing was told to me about its growth habit. Be careful where you plant this thing- it will spread everywhere. I was beginning to discover that nearly all Agaves suckered profusely, and becoming less enchanted with them as they began to take over the cactus garden - limited somewhat on space, even though I did have over 500 species of plants in it.

I was already battling the Agave americana I had planted that was spreading out of control, but this species is far more insidious. Its roots travel quite a distance- up to 10-12' from the mother plant and shoot up everywhere little spiny offspring. They love to grow right out of the middle of another plant making their removal a challenge. And they are viciously spiny and fast growing. I dug out the mother plant and battled the babies for two years until the garden recently aquired a new owner. Good luck!

I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure Agave angustifolia marginata, and Agave angustifolia variegata are all the same as this plant... just fancy names added on by a nursery or seller to perk up the interests of the would-be buyer.

Just a note... I had never known nor had it ever occured to me to take a chain saw to an Agave like this until I read all the above posts. Not sure why one wouldn't just cut the leaves with a knife (they are quite easy to cut, and I'm sure you geta a nicer finished product than what you would with a chain saw). But did not know about the inflammatory sap until now... guess next time you'll use a knife instead?


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Eufaula, Alabama
Lillian, Alabama
Orange Beach, Alabama
Fountain Hills, Arizona
Meadview, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona (3 reports)
Encino, California
Hidden Valley Lake, California
Irvine, California
Reseda, California
San Dimas, California
San Leandro, California
Sun Valley, California
Valley Center, California
Yorba Linda, California
Boynton Beach, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Miami, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palm Coast, Florida
Patrick Afb, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida
Venice, Florida (2 reports)
Vero Beach, Florida
Weston, Florida
Kealakekua, Hawaii
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Metairie, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Kansas City, Missouri
Henderson, Nevada
Summerville, South Carolina
Arlington, Texas

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