Notice

Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Agave boscii (Hornem.) ined.

Short-stemmed Agave with a dense rosette of narrow dark green leaves, to 60cm, some times with fine marginal hairs, and a flowering spike to about 5m, bearing pairs of greenish flowers, flushed red or purple above.  [www.mswn.com].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Agave boscii (Hornem.) ined. is the name accepted by The Plant List for Agave geminiflora (Tagl.) Ker Gawl. as published in BR f.1145/1828. No date of publication is given. ‘An account of a new species of Agave’ was published in the Journal of Science and the Arts by Ker Gawler in 1817 [vol.2, p.86]. ‘In the number for last January of the Italian journal with the above title [Biblioteca Italiana], we find the history of an interesting and undescribed plant, which flowered in 1815, for the first time in Europe, after having been cultivated in various gardens on the Continent for at least twenty years past. The author of the account is Signor Giuseppe Tagliabue, superintendant of the Duke of Littas’ garden at Lainate, near Milan. […] The species is presumed to be a native of South America, and to have found its way into Italy through Lisbon.’ Ker Gawler gives the name Agave geminiflora. Tagliabue had created the new genus Littaea to accommodate the new plant with the specific name geminiflora. The synonyms Dracaena geminiflora Scannagatta, Yucca Boscii Desfontaines and Buonaparte juncea Schlectendahl are also given, the latter no doubt the cause of the confusion noted by the Botanical Register below.

‘A native of South America, whence it is supposed to have been introduced to Europe about 1795.  In 1815 it flowered for the first time in the Garden of the Duke of Litta, at Lainate, near Milan.  That specimen had a caudex 3 feet high, and 7 inches thick; the leaves were 3 feet long; the flower-stem 24 feet high; and the number of flowers one thousand four hundred and eighty-two.  The plant from which the annexed drawing was made blossomed in the Nursery of Mr. Joseph Knight, in November 1826: the stem was 14 feet high, and the number of flowers eight hundred anf forty-six.  In the Gardens both of this country and of the continent; it was, before flowering, confounded with Buonapartea juncea a totally different plant, resembling this in nothing but the narrowness of its leaves, which are otherwise so different, that no person who possessed the slightest acquaintance with the natural affinities of plants could have fallen into the mistake.  But at that time Botany was too often mere empiricism, - a stigma from which it has not yet recovered in this country.  The Botanist of artificial arrangements could do nothing without his stamens and styles: but for the student of nature, no better evidence upon this plant than the leaves afford would have been desired, to determine whether or not it was a Buonapartea.  By Signor Tagliabue, who had the care of the Duke of Litta's plant, it was found, that if the central bud of the stem were seared with a hot iron, a brood of young plants would be produced round the base; and accordingly such was the method he practised in propagating it.’  [BR f.1145/1828].

‘When the margin bears no threads it is var. atricha Trel. (in Bailey, Stand. Cycl. Hort. 1: 238. 1914; A. geminiflora Hook, in Curtis's Bot. Mag. 82: under pl. 4950 ; Lindl. Bot. reg. pl. 1145; A. knightiana Drummond in Curtis's Bot. Mag. IV. 5: under pl. 8271. 1909).’  [Standley – Contributions from the US National Herbarium, vol.23, Trees and Shrubs of Mexico p.141/1920-26].

History at Camden Park

Buonaparte juncea was included in a consignment of plants sent from Kew by John Bidwill in November 1843 [AJCP].  Although it is very likely that these plants were sent to Camden to the care of William Macarthur there is no other evidence of its being grown there.

Notes

Bonapartea juncea Ruiz & Pav. (1802) = Tillandsia setacea Sw. (Bromeliaceae) which see.  This may be the plant imported by Bidwill.

Published Apr 01, 2010 - 10:37 AM | Last updated Nov 07, 2011 - 05:30 PM

Figured is the whole plant with tall flower spike + details of flowers.  Botanical Register f.1145, 1828.

Agave boscii (Hornem.) ined. | BR f.1145/1828 as Agave geminiflora Ker-Gawl. | BHL

Family Agavaceae
Category
Region of origin

Mexico

Synonyms
  • Agave geminiflora (Tagl.) Ker Gawl.
  • Bonapartea juncea Haw.
  • Bonapartea flagelliformis Henckel.
  • Dracaena boscii (Hornem.) Zeyh.
  • Dracaena filamentosa Scan. ex Schult. & Schult.f.
  • Littaea geminiflora Tagl.
  • Littaea juncea E.Morren
  • Agave angustissima Engelm.
  • Tillandsia juncea Willd. ex Steud.
  • Yucca boscii Hornem.
Common Name

Twin-flowered agave

Name in the Camden Park Record

Buonapartea juncea  

Confidence level

medium