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As a comment about Agave (Agave parryi subsp. parryi), mcvansoest wrote:

Almost all the pictures associated with this database entry do not represent A. parryi subsp. parryi. Many are A. parryi subsp./var. truncata - a beautiful plant that is the most sold version of A. parryi in the garden centers and nurseries.
Many other pictures do not represent Agave parryi subsp. parryi at all.
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Jan 23, 2016 10:38 AM CST
As I understand it from the Starr book, A. parryi ssp. parryi is further divided into 4 or so varieties including var. truncata, so strictly speaking the umbrella ssp. parryi should be valid for truncata. But I agree with you, I would think that a separate page for var. truncata would be vastly more helpful as it is (like you say) much more common and distinctive. I am going to propose that one be added to the database, especially given that one for var. huachucensis already exists. Then maybe with your help those images could be sorted out.

I have commented on the two pictures I was sure were not any kind of parryi... please do the same if other plants strike you as misidentified.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 23, 2016 11:06 AM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
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mcvansoest
Jan 23, 2016 11:57 AM CST
you are correct. If the database entry is simply Agave parryi, any photo of Agave parryi would be a correct entry, but if there are separate entries for some of the var./subsp. it seems strange to not be taxonomically correct and have them all. Effectively they have separate entries for subsp./var. neomexicana, couesii, huachucensis, and parryi, so really the main one missing is truncata, which may overlap with subsp./var. parryi, but does have a distinct geographic location of occurrence compared to all the other varieties/subspecies.
I find it interesting how Starr downplays the distinctions - I am sure that in the areas where the ranges of the different varieties/subspecies overlap that things get muddled, but if you look at pictures of the different var./subsp. from say the middle of their range, the differences between the plants are pretty clear. Check out the gallery entries for the parryi's at Agaveville.org and you'll see what I mean.

I am willing to help try and get things sorted out, but it seems the process of getting pictures moved here is somewhat involved and I am by no means an expert - the only A. parryi I have successfully kept alive has been var. truncata, I lost a beautiful parryi subsp. parryi last spring due to the wetness, I wonder about the entry in the database that suggest they grow in mesic and dry mesic conditions... maybe if they are in super well draining soil, but to me this is a plant that really wants to be dry.
I have var. huachucensis but I have to see if take on the distinct shape of that plant before I trust the ID on that plant. I also have var. couesii but also with some doubt about the positive ID, that plant is still small and growing very very slowly. I am looking for a neomex plant as those in my opinion are the best looking subsp. of A. parryi.
Name: Rob Duval
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robertduval14
Jan 23, 2016 1:42 PM CST

Plants Admin

The problem is that, currently, Agave parryi var. truncata is considered a synonym of Agave parryi subsp. parryi which is why you see those plants here...the database here goes with the most currently available taxonomic classifications, within reason as things change all the time. Our main source for reference is the Catalog of Life, but we do refer to other sources for more specific details at times.


http://www.catalogueoflife.org/col/details/species/id/4ea77c...
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Jan 23, 2016 1:49 PM CST
The Catalog of Life is wrong. I will be happy to make a separate comment about this. Here is the history of the plant var. truncata as I understand it. The form most commonly encountered in cultivation is a descendant of a plant that Howard Gentry collected in 1951 and deposited at the Huntington Botanical Garden. In his landmark agave book Gentry broke down the species parryi into varieties huachucensis, couesii, and truncata. These are the same varieties that apply today. With the inclusion of ssp. neomexicana the species Agave parryi gained ssp. parryi (used to describe the plants originally constituting the parryi species). The 3 varieties he described have been recognized by both subsequent books on agaves (by Irish and Starr). They are distinct from each other and have been since Gentry described them.

For this reason Agave parryi truncata is not and has never been a synonym for Agave parryi ssp. parryi, among the people who have grown the plant. It is a type of parryi ssp. parryi, nothing more.

This is a database error. I would invite Thijs or other growers of the plant to chime in with their experience and sources.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 23, 2016 2:03 PM (+)]
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Name: Rob Duval
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robertduval14
Jan 23, 2016 2:17 PM CST

Plants Admin

It should be noted the CoL refers to the worlds most widely accepted sources for it's taxonomic listings. So it would not be just CoL that has to be 'wrong'.

It's not the opinions of growers that we take into account as far as taxonomic details are concerned within the database, but the current opinions of published botanists.

World Plant checklist at KEW also list truncata as a synonym. There are those the disagree, but at this time the name is considered a synonym from a taxonomic standpoint. Until the scientific community changes this, it is likely our database here will follow the same conventions it always has.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 23, 2016 2:29 PM CST
Every single grower of Agave parryi var. truncata who has seen the other varieties would disagree, and I am happy to note that in a comment. I would like to invite anyone to point out a scientific source where var. truncata was placed in synonymy with ssp. parryi. Through its recorded history the plant has been separate and distinct from other known varieties of the plant. Let me put this differently. If var. huachucensis and var. couesii and not part of ssp. parryi (only truncata is allowed), then they must be part of another ssp. within the genus (which does not exist and has never existed that I've heard of).
Name: Rob Duval
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robertduval14
Jan 23, 2016 2:36 PM CST

Plants Admin

http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/namedetail.do?name_id=311181
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Jan 23, 2016 4:36 PM CST
I know that they are listed as synonyms. Was there something in particular you wanted to indicate? My point is they're wrong. Of course I'm happy to go along with whatever database you prefer, I understand the importance of consistency and order.

Until somebody can tell me who elevated truncata to exclusive subspecies status (effectively, using the name given to a type plant from a totally different population!!) then I am going to leave my comment to the contrary below the plant listing and move on. Error. Does not compute. Thank You!
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 23, 2016 4:43 PM (+)]
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Name: Rob Duval
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robertduval14
Jan 23, 2016 4:51 PM CST

Plants Admin

I do not have the time to go through every link on the further information tab (Which includes links to research papers DNA research and the who's and what's about the latest published information). I just assumed that the specific information you asked for as to the when and why for the change would be buried on that page somewhere, or within the links it provides.
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Jan 23, 2016 4:57 PM CST
I have spent a lot of time with various databases, with Google Scholar, and with the internet in general, and have yet to see any source. I'm relatively new at this database thing so it's completely possible I've missed some button or link.

My question above was if you could identify a source saying why the change elevating var. truncata to a subspecies (effectively, to the exclusion of the other varieties, including the type). That is not something you will see in any of the standard references. Without that information I am going to assume that the type population deserves to be in the type subspecies. These plants have been grouped for decades (see my comment below). I would love to see where they were broken up/ordered this weird way, because it would help me figure out the reasoning behind it. Confused

Agave (Agave parryi subsp. parryi)
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 23, 2016 5:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
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mcvansoest
Jan 23, 2016 5:04 PM CST
I will refer to my post regarding the use of plant lists without actually trying to check the sources on which these plant lists are based, so as not to repeat myself:
http://garden.org/thread/view_post/1038800/

I realize that to keep the database here in some kind of reasonable shape one has to refer to a list, but it seems highly inconsistent to not allow a plant variety that just about every expert in the Agave world will recognize as separate to have its own database entry, but then to allow separate entries for the oodles and oodles of cultivars, hybrids, and such that I also for the live of me cannot find in the CoL... and many of which are often mistakenly entered: For example: Agave parryi 'Ohi Kissho ten Nishiki' based on the picture associated with in the database is a form of Agave potatorum not Agave parryi. Agave parryi 'Hammer Time' which gives as synonym agave leopoldi, is not a synonym of Agave xleopoldi cv. 'Hammer Time', that name should actually be Agave xleopoldi cv. 'Hammer Time', that plant has nothing in common with Agave parryi except for also being an Agave.

I have looked for the source of why A. parryi var. truncata was declared a synonym and to me it seems exactly what I argue in the post I refer to: the list that Kew and the CoL use in which the Agaves are listed was compiled by 3 people, none of which I have ever come across in popular or scientific literature directly related to Agaves. Kew actually lists more sources and even a more recent source where this name is accepted vs. the source that declared it a synonym, but clearly has decided to follow its own compiled list over the lists compiled by other institutions. The most recent treatise compiled by someone who is a known expert in the field: Fritz Hochstätter even elevates A. parryi truncata to the status of subsp.: http://issuu.com/fhnavajo/docs/agave. Three of the big US based botanical institutions that maintain large collections of Agaves (The Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden, The AZ Sonoran Desert Museum, and the Huntington Botanical Garden) all recognize A. parryi var truncata as a scientifically accepted plant name.

Name: Rob Duval
Mason, New Hampshire (Zone 5b)
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robertduval14
Jan 23, 2016 5:52 PM CST

Plants Admin

I'm not disagreeing with anyone's assessment of this particular plant. I was just letting it be known how the database worked here and why, to the best of my knowledge.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 23, 2016 5:55 PM CST
Thank you for that info. I noticed in the Hochstätter reference (if I understand the text right) that not only truncata but also the other two varieties and parryi were elevated to separate, equal subspecies (retaining the names of the varieties). Which is actually consistent with the separate but equal treatment they are currently receiving from the botanical gardens, just one notch up on the scale.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 24, 2016 3:42 PM CST
This is not the first suspect agave entry I have encountered in the database. For what it's worth, they also list these two agaves as synonyms

Agave ferdinandi-regis = Agave victoriae-reginae ssp. victoriae-reginae

when they should be listing them this way

Agave ferdinandi-regis = Agave nickelsiae

http://www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-checklist/2015/details...

http://www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-checklist/2015/details...

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