Agave sisalana ‘Mediopicta’-Sisal

Agave sisalana ‘Mediopica’ on 6-1-14, #228-7.


Agave sisalana ‘Mediopicta’

a-GAV-vee  sis-al-AY-nuh

Agave sisalana was “officially” described twice. Now, I am sure many people wrote about this plant many times, but I am talking about when it was “officially named. 🙂 Officially, it was first named and described as Agave sisalana Perrine by  Henry Perrine in Tropical Plants in 1838. However, some believe that was invalid for some reason. It was later described, acknowledging the description by Mr. Perrine, by Georg (George) Engelmann in Transactions of the Academy of Science of St. Louis in 1875. The correct scientific name was then Agave sisalana Perrine ex Engelm. 

Different plant name databases may choose either way. Some will choose the earlier date and some the latter. Plants of the World Online by Kew decided to choose the first description by Perrine in 1838. Tropicos has “**” besides that name which means it is invalid in their opinion. But, apparently, that is OK and everyone has a right to their opinion. Either way, Agave sisalana is the correct scientific name and it was first named and described by Georg (George) Perrine in 1838. There is no “official” infraspecific name for the variegated Agave sisalana. Maybe someday… 


Agave sisalana ‘Mediopicta’ on 6-29-14, #230-10.

I am not sure exactly where I bought my Agave sisalana in 2014, but probably from Lowe’s since it does have a label. I believe the label said Agave sisalana ‘variegata’ but it has been 4 years since I gave this plant up so I no longer have the label. The photo folder is labeled Agave sisalana mediopicta because the label was actually incorrect (its an industry thing).

When I initially did research for this page, I ran across a description from San Marco Growers. The name they give is Agave sisiliana forma medio-picta (they misspelled the species name, but no one is perfect). They say it was a 2002 International Succulent Introduction as ISI 2002-9 Agave sisalana forma medio-picta. The plants for this introduction came from the bulbils from a flowering plant at the Huntington Botanic Garden. It doesn’t say whether or not the parent plant was variegated in the first place. The page for this plant on the Huntington Botanical Garden website says it is “a pentaploid, largely sterile hybrid, its precise origin is uncertain.” Just guessing, I would say the original plant was variegated or why would they have selected it to get bulbils. (?)

The species is named after the port of Sisal in Yucatán, Mexico where it was originally exported from. It is believed it was not native to that area and where it is actually from is unknown. Although native to somewhere in southeast Mexico, this species has been exported to many other parts of the world where it is commercially grown for its fiber. Information also suggests it could possibly be a hybrid of Agave angustifolia and Agave kewensis.

Family: Asparagaceae (formerly in the Agavaceae)
Origin: Southeast Mexico
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25 to 40° F)
Size: 4-6’ tall x 6-8’ wide… Umm…
Light: Full sun to part shade
Soil: Average, well-drained
Water: Average during the growing period.


Agave sisalana ‘Mediopicta’ on 7-12-14, #231-6.

I liked this plant because this species is only one of a few Agave that doesn’t have spines along the edges of the leaves. It does have a long brown needle on the tips, though.

I gave up many of my plants late in the summer of 2014 including this one. I am rebuilding my collection so maybe someday I will find another.

You will find this variegated Agave sisalana offered under a variety of names including mediopicta, ‘Mediopicta’, medio-picta, and maybe other cultivar names. Just keep in mind, this plant can get large over time if planted in the ground where it is hardy. They will stay somewhat smaller in pots, but be prepared to repot every so often. Keeping that in mind, you should have them in smooth sided pots that are larger at the top than the bottom. This will make repotting MUCH easier. I learned the hard way with one of my Agave americana subsp. protoamericana

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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