Manfreda/Agave virginica

Steve Marak
Fri, 02 Jul 2010 13:36:35 PDT

We've seen this a lot with Ozark plants, including Manfreda, from rocky 
glades with poor soil that get lots of sun, and are usually very wet in 
the spring and very dry in the summer. 

We've found a lot of plants - Manfreda, Ruellia humilis, various 
Asclepias, etc. - that seemed to have exceptional color (chartreuse 
leaves, variegation, exceptionally dark leaves, good markings), or that we 
thought were dwarf forms, and when we grew seed from that plant, or in a 
few cases moved plants, they behaved very differently in our yard, usually 
losing the trait(s) which caused us to notice them in the wild. The 
Manfreda I mentioned whose flower spike is now well over 8 feet tall (2.5 
meters) in my garden was rescued from highway construction, and we never 
observed a spike in that population much over 5.5 feet (1.7 m) in the 10 
or more years before we moved it.

One of the few exceptions is an Asclepias verticillata which my wife grew 
from seed collected on a hot dry roadside, which has turned out to be 
even more spectacular in a sand bed than its parents were in the wild. 
(But then, for all I know that's just how A. verticillata responds to 
cultivation ... maybe it's not really spectacular at all.)

I'm hoping your Manfredas will be exceptions and hold that color, though. 
I love the well-marked forms, and just wish they were hardier.

whose seed-grown Mirabilis multiflora has now survived two winters 
outdoors in NW Arkansas and finally managed some flowers

On Fri, 2 Jul 2010, Kelly D. Norris wrote:

> I botanized the Ozarks last June and found a lot of interesting variation in
> M. virginica in the wild, as Aaron notes below.  On most glades where we
> were, flower stalks were just forming, but looked like they would top out in
> the 4-5' range.  The foliar maculation was superb though, and I collected a
> couple of forms with lots of red from the base to the apex of the leaf.
> Some looked like you dropped a paint ball in the center.  
> I potted them up and held them in a cold house over the winter.  This year
> the foliage has yet to really take on the intensity of the red coloration we
> observed last year, making me wonder if this trait is really genetic of
> merely phenotypically plastic.  

-- Steve Marak

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