Speaker: Greg Starr
Program: Agaves 101 – Let’s start from the beginning
Greg has been asked to speak at Succulenticon 2018 in Perth, Australia and he has put together a brand-new program that he would like to preview before the September convention. This presentation provides the audience with the basics of agaves beginning with the history of names and finishing with a flourish of cultural notes. He promises that it is not as boring as it sounds. There will be a lot of pretty pictures, myths will be busted, and even good information about these amazing plants. If you have an interest in succulent plants, and Greg suspects that you do since you are a member of a cactus and succulent club, then come on out and learn just one thing about this fascinating genus of plants.
Bio for Greg Starr
Greg was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and has grown to love the desert and its flora and fauna. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture, and after working in the landscape industry he went back to the University to study Botany and further his education in horticulture. Greg worked for Warren Jones (co-author of Plants for Dry Climates and Landscape Plants for Dry Regions) and Dr. Charles Mason at the University of Arizona herbarium. Greg made his first foray into the world of collecting in 1979 when he traveled with Warren and Bill Kinneson to Texas where he saw firsthand, in habitat, the many plants he had only experienced in the nursery or landscapes. He emerged from the University in 1985 with a Master of Science in Horticulture with a special emphasis on botany.
He opened Starr Nursery in the summer of 1985, and has specialized in low water use plants for landscaping in southern Arizona. Greg has traveled extensively in Mexico and the southwestern United States to study the plants for their potential landscape use in desert regions of the world. He has also traveled to South Africa and recently to Madagascar in search of juicy succulents.
Greg has written several horticultural articles for the journal Desert Plants. Topics have covered various groups of plants as well as botanizing in South Africa. He has also described two new species and a subspecies of Agave, three new species of Hesperaloe, and revised the genus Hesperaloe in a monograph published in the journal Madroño. The first Agave species Greg described was Agave ovatifolia. He worked with Dr. Jose Angel Villarreal in describing this amazing plant which has been dubbed Whale’s Tongue Agave, a reflection of the incredibly wide leaves that sometimes double as water harvesting vessels. He and Dr. Tom Van Devender described Agave parviflora subsp. densiflora a new find from the Sierra Madre Occidental in eastern Sonora. Greg’s first book, Cool Plants for Hot Gardens, was released at the end of April 2009 and is currently out of print. His second book, titled Agaves: Living Sculptures for Landscapes and Containers, was released in early May of 2012. He was a co-author for the recently released Field Guide to the Cacti and Other Succulents of Arizona. He has taught Plant Biology and Plant Materials classes at The Art Center Design College in Tucson for their program of Landscape Architecture. Since 2010, Greg has focused intensively on the Agaves of Baja California and he and Bob Webb described Agave azurea, a new species from the Picachos de Santa Clara, and submitted a revision for the genus on the Baja California peninsula to the journal Haseltonia which came out in January 2015. He recently described Agave cremnophila from southern Oaxaca and is busy researching the rest of the agaves found down there.
Greg spends most of his days tapping at the computer hoping another book will take shape, preparing PowerPoint presentations and tending to Starr Nursery, specializing in Agaves and related plants as well as other succulents and new introductions of perennials, flowering shrubs, and small trees from arid and semi-arid regions around the world.