The Purple Passion Mystery

Last year, we saw a listing for a new Mangave, M. ‘Purple Passion’ on the availability of a West Coast liner producer, so we ordered some to try. It was immediately evident when we unpacked the shipment, that the plants didn’t look anything like a mangave, nor did what we received match the image that the supplier had on their website.

As we dug deeper, we found that the supplier had misappropriated a mangave image from another wholesaler and was using it for the plant we purchased, desptie the two looking nothing alike. Once the image issue was remedied, we set out trying to track down the origin of this strange plant, which looked more like a steamrolled eucomis than a mangave.

The supplier sent us to their supposed source, who had never heard of the plant in question. For six months, we have chased down one lead after another, contacting all of the well-known plant breeders of these type of plants on the West Coast. All dead ends.

Examining the plant in our garden this summer, it occurred to us that the unusual leaf netting must have come from a beschorneria. Comparing the foliage netting of ‘Purple Passion’ to beschornerias in our garden yielded a perfect match, except for the leaf color. The only plant which could have been crossed with a beschorneria to give such leaf color is a manfreda. Hence, our conclusion that our plant is in fact a new bi-generic hybrid, x Beschfreda ‘Purple Passion’ (beschorneria x manfreda).

Since we don’t know which species of beschorneria was used, we are uncertain about potential winter hardiness, but with plants in the ground now, all we need to do is wait for cold weather. Below is a photo of the plant in the garden this week. If you happen to know more of the backstory of this fascinating plant, please let us know.

3 thoughts on “The Purple Passion Mystery

  1. Thank you for this clarification. My liners likely came from the same source as yours, and (obviously) the resulting plants look nothing like the photo provided. Now that they are blooming size I set out to resolve the mystery and you’ve provided the answer.

  2. I purchased ‘Purple Passion’ sometime back from Mountain Crest Gardens via their online shop (they are in Fort Jones, CA); it doesn’t look like they offer it any longer. I assumed they bought their plugs from Rancho Tissue (no photos on RT’s website but the plant can be found listed there via online search). In my experience here in Northern California, near Sacramento, ‘Purple Passion’ behaves like a manfreda in Winter, dying back to the ground (we do have a few frosty nights) but then re-growing in Spring. My plant has the same coloring of the plant you show here, but the leaf margins tend to be more smooth, not wavy, but it’s still young.
    I am surprised at your findings, though must admit I don’t really see any agave-like characteristics to this plant so far. I like beschornerias (though none of mine have yet bloomed), so I’ll see what happens with ‘Purple Passion’.

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