The Cottage Smallholder

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Can you identify these mystery ‘cuckoo’ seedlings and win a wildlife friendly prize?


argave and mystery plantlets

Photo: Agave and mystery plantlets


I bought this agave plant from the wayside stand outside the secret garden last autumn. Yes, I know that it’s hard to see it as the “cuckoo” seedlings are rearing to go. All plants, whatever the value are 40p (33p if you buy three, which I always do). So I was delighted with this bargain. Agaves are great. Just ask S and The Chicken Lady – they have loads of argaves. And I agree with them.  A good argave in a hot summer is a perfect focal point in a garden.

This new agave was coddled in the greenhouse this winter and for the last four months has hosted these mystery ‘cuckoo’ seedlings. They were strong from the moment that they appeared. So beefy that I thought that they might be tree seedlings. Now I’m not so sure. Could they be babies of a superb and rare shrub?

The secret garden is a wonderful place full of  unusual plants. So I’m loathe to toss the seedlings into the compost bin without asking the experts.  I’ve traipsed the Internet looking for clues as to what these seedlings could be and drawn a complete and utter blank. I must admit the red stems are intriguing – if they had had green stems I might have ignored the call to arms and tossed them.

Photo: Close up of plantlets

If you can point me in the right direction (photos and description) a small but very wildlife friendly mystery prize awaits the first person to identify these seedlings correctly.

The  challenge starts now!

  Leave a reply


  1. Countryside Ranger

    Please pay attention to ‘Kate UK’s’ comments of 3rd June. I’ve spent many hours/days/years pulling this plant out of the ground in my endeavours to control it. It is extremely invasive but only via seed dispersal. No need to burn it, just get it out of the ground before it produces seeds. Remove all of the stem – plus the root – if you can as it can produce new shoots from basal nodes. Put the pulled stems in a pile and let them rot down.

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