From the Collections: Agave parryi

Colored image of a page from Charles Parry’s 1850 San Felipe diary

A page from Charles Parry’s 1850 San Felipe diary showing an agave plant
(Charles Christopher Parry Papers, MS 290, Series 3, Notebook 11. 0290_Parry-notebook_11)

Parry encountered the plant in the summer of 1850 near San Felipe (Baja) during his time on the United States-Mexican Boundary Survey.

Although the diary above shows a sketch of a plant titled “Agave Mescali (?)”, the real Agave parryi is named after the diary’s author, Charles C. Parry.

Black and white image of Parry's Agave in the Prescott National Forest

Parry’s Agave in the Prescott National Forest, 1959.
(Bluford W. Muir, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)

Parry described the plant as “from 4 to 10 ft – 1 to 2 inches in diameter,” but the plants have been known to grow up to 20 feet high.

Charles C. Parry, of Davenport, was the first person to hold the position of botanist in the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Parry’s papers, including 21 other notebooks, are available at the Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives Department.