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Agave vs. Yucca

Mainly in Central America, agaves also occur naturally in the soutwest United States. They are succulents with a large rosette of thick fleshy leaves, each ending in a sharp point some having a spiny margin. Agaves are monocarpic, meaning they bloom once then die.

Arizona examples:
  • Agave palmeri
  • Agave chrysantha


Yucca's 40-50 species are notable for their rosettes of tough/sword-shaped leaves and large terminal clumps of whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry parts of North, Central, and South America. Yuccas are polycarpic, meaning bloom several times in their lifespan after maturity. All varieties of yucca branch and with enough time produce trunks.

Arizona examples: