U vindt dit artikel in de Nederlandse taal in Succulenta No.2 van april 2007

Agave victoriae-reginae (T.Moore)

This article is an copy from the Dutch society Succulenta 2007 no.2

Wim Alsemgeest  Jos van Roosbroeck and Theo van ‘t Walderveen


This plant is one of the best known and most beautiful of all agaves and most succulent collectors have more than one form of this plant in their collections.
Following the discovery of this agave there has been much confusion about it and so it would be good to know more about  the plant.
It is known that there are four forms of agave vitoriae reginae and two of these forms are found side by side in the same habitat.
A Frenchman, Victor Considerant, was the first to bring this agave  to Europe from Mexico in 1872 and won a silver medal at a flower show in Paris. Sadly this prize specimen was over watered and died the following winter. In the autumn of 1874 Considerant tried again, this time importing a total of twelve plants, the biggest of which was planted in the Jardin des Plants in Paris. Seven of the plants went to Belgium, to the nursery of Louis Desmet in Ghent. Desmet in turn showed the plants at an international plant exhibition in Cologne , where they were presented to the public as  sp. Agave nova. His plants aroused the interest of the well known and wealthy English collector John Peacock who bought the lot and went on to win a First Class Award at the Royal Horticultural Society October Show. As the plants were not yet formally named Peacock suggested they be named in honour of Queen Victoria.
When permission was granted, T. Moore, curator of the Chelsea Garden and editor of the Gardeners’ Chronicle, described the plant in the edition of that periodical dated October 16th 1875. When the description appeared it caused great annoyance to Carriere, editor of the French Revue Horticole, who felt that this plant should have a more French orientated name as it had arrived in France before finding it’s way to England. He wrote about the history of agave victoriae reginae and how it had first come to France and he also tried to rename it agave consideranti but unfortunately this name was never accepted in the botanical world.
In 1968 August J. Breitung actually described  eight different forms of agave victoriae reginae but the differences were minor and it was difficult to separate the plants on this basis.
The type location for this species is in the Huasteca Canyon, not far from a large city called Monterey in the state of  Nuevo Leon in the north of Mexico. Wim Alsemgeest and a friend managed to visit the type location in 2005, although it is not easy to find and many agave enthusiasts from Europe never make it. They also almost did not make it. One has to find the small town of Santa Catarina. The entry to the canyon in to be found from Avenue Miquel Alleman and looks a bit like a holiday park. There are stunning views of this beautiful territory with almost white looking mountains. Unfortunately in this initial part of the canyon there were no plants and they guessed that most had been taken away. They decided to drive deeper into the canyon but at the end of this park section there was a barrier with a guard. The guard let them through and as the road became less and less easy to navigate they came across a second ,unguarded, barrier. They continued on their way but again there were no plants to be seen close by. They did see some Americans climbing the mountains with ropes but they appeared to be mountain climbers and not agave enthusiasts.
They carried on for ten kilometres and then found the canyon to be widening. It was here, in the easily climbable and relatively low parts of the mountains, they finally came across a plentiful supply of agave victoriae reginae, growing near to a flowering colony of echinocereus armatus. After an hour they continued further into the canyon and having crossed another unguarded barrier they then came across some huge trucks and found themselves at the construction site of a large dam . They followed the trucks to the other side of the dam and here they found more of this species, growing amongst large but fortunately easily climable rocks. The plants here were large and green with a diameter of 50 cms whilst they noticed that the plants growing on vertical cliffs  nearby were much smaller in size.
The previous day they had been again in the mountains, this time in Saltillo some 80 km west of Huasteca Canyon in the state of Coahuila. They climbed a lot and discovered pure green forms of agave victoriae reginae minus the white leaf markings. These plants correspond to Breitung’s agave victoriae reginae v. viridis ( viridis meaning green ). Higher up the mountain the plants exhibited  the white leaf markings but were quite different from the ones they had seen in Huasteca Canyon. The colouring was grey green rather than pure green and instead of one spine there were up to three per leaf, all of an intense black colour. This form was called fernandi regis by Alwin Berger.
In Dr. Thomas Heller’s book ‘Agaven’ on page 123 ( First Edition ) there is a picture with the two forms side by side and this picture illustrates very well the differences in the two forms of the plant. So we have two forms of the same plant growing together near Saltillo.
Further west in the state of Coahuila, in the mountains of the Sierra Bola one can find   another form of agave victoriae reginae. This form is a very compact one, like a snowball, and grows high up in the mountains where it is likely to be much drier than in the Huasteca Canyon. It is also to be found further south in Viesca and there have been reports of it  growing also further south west in the state of Durango.
Bernd Ullrich wrote about a site to the south east of the city of Durango in the journal Kakteen und Andere Sukkulenten,  issue nr. 11 in 1991. In the same journal but issue nr.5 in 1990 there is a picture of victoriae reginae with atrophytum myriostigma f. columnare. The picture is said to be in   Huizache in San Luis Potosi. It is now known that this is an error and that the picture was taken in a private collection.


The authors are of the opinion that there are four forms of agave victoriae reginae:

1). Compact form from the Sierra Bola and Viesca in Coahuila and in Durango.

2). Fernandi regis form from Saltillo with fewer leaves than other forms and of a grey green rather than green colour. Broad white leaf markings are prominent and the single terminal spine is replaced by three short black spines.   The name fernandi regis is in itself  botanically invalid .

3). Viridis form, the second form from Saltillo which lack the white leaf markings of other forms. In the literature it is considered as a hybrid between agave victoriae reginae and agave lechuguilla but as only the fernandi regis form grows in this area it is likely that this plant represents a hybrid between lechuguilla and the fernandi regis form of victoriae reginae.

4). Type form, growing in the Huasteca Canyon with green and  more numerous leaves than other forms.

There are many varied and beautiful forms of agave victoriae reginae available for collectors and enthusiasts. Many nurseries now have on offer various variegated forms of this plant, with leaf colourings varying from white to yellow.
It is also now relatively common in collections to come across hybrids of agave victoriae reginae with agave scabra / asperrima. These plants can be found labelled as the ‘Sharkskin ‘Agave and on the European mainland they have for a long time been labelled as agave nigra.   In the United Kingdom  the name nigra tends to be applied to different plants, these being hybrids between victoriae reginae and lechuguilla.   These plants are similar to the ones we found in Saltillo and we believe they represent the viridis form of agave victoriae reginae.

Many thanks for the help by the translation from Dutch to the Englisch language from Jan Kolendo


Breitung, A.J. J. (1968). The Agaves. The Cactus  and Succulent Journal Yearbook. Abbey Garden Press, .............
Heller, Th. (2003). Agaven. Natur und Tier Verlag GmbH, Münster.
Irish, M. & Irish, G. (2000). Agaves and related Plants - A Gardeners' Guide. Timber Press, Portland Oregon.
Janse, J. A. (1942). Agaven. Cactussen en Vetplanten, 8: 51-56.
Thiede, J. (2001). Agavaceae.  In Eggli, U. (Hrsg.), Sukkulenten-Lexicon, Bd 1, Einkeimblättrige Pflanzen (Monocotyledonen). Ulmer, Stuttgart.
Ullrich.B.Zum Verbreitungsgebiet von Agave victoriae-reginae T.Moore. K.u.a.s. 42(11) 1991 pag.262-263
Ullrich.B. Agave victoriae-reginae T. Moore K.u.a.s kartei heft 7/1991.

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