Agave jaiboli, sp. nov.

Figure 28

Medium-size, single, nonsuckering, green to yellowish green, usually open rosettes, 6-10 dm. tall, 14-20 dm. broad; leaves 60-100 X 8-12 cm. linear to lanceolate, widest at or above the middle, gradually narrowed below, usually straightly ascending to spread­ing, long acuminate, sometimes incurved, plane to conduplicate, the margins noncorneous or narrowly corneous with the decurrent spine for less than its length; the larger teeth mostly 2-3 cm. apart, on small regular teats, 5-8 mm. long, flexed downwards or upwards, reddish brown, the smaller interstitial teeth 1-several, 1-4 mm. long; terminal spine 3-4 cm. long, subulate, terete, red­dish brown, shiny, openly or narrowly grooved in lower 1/2 to 2/3.

Both the young flowering shoots and the headlike stem of jaiboli are cooked and eaten by the peoples of the Rio Mayo country, the succulent flowering shoots are usually boiled, the heads pit baked over hot stones and coals. The roving eye of the man with a ready machete is quick to discover a new shoot and it takes but a moment to cut and lay it upon the shoulder to carry home. The species appears to become ever rarer, as it reproduces only by seeds, and my search for flowering specimens has been frus trated during the many years I have known the plant. The non-Indian people, "gente de razon," living on Sierra de la Ventana frequently decapitate the flowering shoots, so the rosette will re main green and mature until such time that it can be conveniently collected for making mescal. This is a common practice in many parts of Mexico.

The young plants are easily cultured and have grown well in my Murrieta collection, showing no ill effects of the 5 to 8 degrees of frost occurring there. However, rabbits and gophers are fond of the plants and completely destroyed three of the plants intro duced there. The cottontail rabbit, Sylvilagus, ate the leaves of half-grown plants clear down to the base. The food qualities of this plant appear to merit detailed investigation as a potential resource.

For distribution of seven species of the subgenus Agave, see figure 31.

Planta non-surculosa 6-10 dm. alta, 14-20 dm. lata; foliis viridibus, 60-100 cm. longis, 8-12 cm. latis, lanceolatibus, rectis-adscendentibus; dentis castaneis, dimorphis, majoris 5-8 mm. longis, flexuosis, in mammae 2-3 cm. distantis, minoris 1-4 mm, longis; spina terminalis 3-4 cm. longa, castanea, subulata, supre canaliculata, teres, decurrenta; inflorescentia paniculata, 6-8 m. alta, diffusa, cum ca. 15 ramii lateralibus; floris parvis, 35-50 mm. longis, gracilis; ovario parvo, fusiformo, 20-30 mm. longo, 8 mm. lato; tubo 4-5 mm. longo, 8 mm. lato; segmentis 15-17 mm. longis, 4-5 mm. latis, linearis, in-volutis, ad apicem rotundis, galeatis, filamentis 35-40 mm. longis ad medius tubo insertis; antheris luteis, 13-14 mm. longis; capsulis oblongis, 40-50 x 17-20 mm., stipitatis; semini 5x7 mm., negris, luteis, marginis alatis.

FIGURE 28.—Agave jaiboli: Leaf drawn from Arguelles 78; flower cluster and capsules X 1/3, flower section x 1, and seeds x 1 1/2 from Gentry 21177, The flower cluster was reconstructed from old withered flowers persisting on the thickened and still growing ovaries or young fruits.

FIGURE 29.—Agave jaiboli on Sierra de la Ventana: Top, tip of panicle was broken off (by a large bird?), caught on oak branches at fall, and provided dried flowers for Gentry 21177; bottom, unusual plant with incurving leaves.

FIGURE 30.—Agave jaiboli with budding inflorescence in December near Conejos along Arroyo Guajaray. Leaf form here is more typical of species than that shown in figure 29.

© The Agave Family in Sonora, 1972