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Century Cactus-Agave americana
The Century cactus is a thick, massive succulent with bluish pointed leaves forming a basal rosette. It is slow growing, living to 10-25 years (the century is an exaggeration) before it uses all its reserves to grow a flower stalk that can be 15 feet tall. After, the original plant dies, but is replaced by small offshoots from the base. It grows best in the desert, with excessive sun and dry soil. When an century cactus is over watered, the roots will rot.
It can be a used for a variety of resources. When the flower stem is cut before it flowers. A sweet liquid gathers in the art of the plant. The leaves have strong fibers that can be use for rope. Most commonly, it can be fermented into an alcoholic drink.
Derivation of specific name
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Habitat & Distribution
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Agave americana
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Agave americana
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Root: Sudorific and antisyphilitic. Roots are steeped in water, and the water ingested for various ailments such as stomach pain, painful and difficult urination, scurvy, swollen and bleeding pulp of teeth, swollen bones, constipation, and poor appetite or loss of appetite.
Uses: Beverage (non-alcoholic), Folk medicine
Comments: Hierba a la que se le atribuye propiedades tales como purificadora de la sangre, diurética, antiséptica, laxante, tónica, para la conjuntivitis, afecciones hepáticas, renales, sífilis. Los botones florales son comestibles, utilizados en la preparación de bebidas nutritivas.
Agave americana, commonly known as the century plant, maguey, or American aloe (although it is in a different family from the Aloe), is an agave originally from Mexico but cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant. It has since naturalised in many regions and grows wild in Europe, South Africa, India, and Australia.
The misnamed century plant typically lives only 10 to 30 years. It has a spreading rosette (about 4 m/13 ft wide) of gray-green leaves up to 2 m (6.6 ft) long, each with a spiny margin and a heavy spike at the tip that can pierce to the bone. When it flowers, the spike with a cyme of big yellow flowers may reach up to 8 m (26 ft) in height. Its common name likely derives from its semelparous nature of flowering only once at the end of its long life. The plant dies after flowering, but produces suckers or adventitious shoots from the base, which continue its growth.
Cultivated varieties include the "marginata" with yellow stripes along the margins of each leaf, "medio-picta alba" with a central white band, "medio-picta aurea" with a central yellow band, "striata" with multiple yellow to white stripes along the leaves, and "variegata" with white edges on the leaves.
Taxonomy and naming
- Agave americana var. americana
- Agave americana var. expansa
- Agave americana var. latifolia
- Agave americana var. oaxacensis
- Agave americana ssp. protamericana
If the flower stem is cut without flowering, a sweet liquid called agua miel ("honey water") gathers in the heart of the plant. This may be fermented to produce the drink called pulque. The leaves also yield fibers, known as pita, which are suitable for making rope, matting, coarse cloth and are used for embroidery of leather in a technique known as piteado. Both pulque and maguey fibre were important to the economy of pre-Columbian Mexico.
Mezcal and tequila are different from pulque, they are distilled spirits. In the region of Tequila, agaves are called mezcales, and the high-alcohol product of their distillation is called mezcal. Tequila is made from Agave tequilana, comonly called "blue agave". Mezcal may contain the mezcal worm, which pulque and tequila do not.
The sap is quite acidic and can be quite painful if it comes in contact with the skin. It can form small blisters.
Agave (americana), Yemen
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Agave americana|
- ^ "Agave americana L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2005-05-23. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?1690. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- ^ Bailey, L.H.; Bailey, E.Z.; the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium. 1976. Hortus third: A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. Macmillan, New York.
- ^ Irish, Gary (2000). Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants: A Gardener's Guide. Timber Press. pp. 94–97. ISBN 9780881924428. http://books.google.com/books?id=YbVYuq73I0wC.
- ^ Vermeulen, Nico. 1998. The Complete Encyclopedia of Container Plants, pp. 36-37. Netherlands: Rebo International. ISBN 90-366-1584-4
French Guiana: aloes. Surinam: agave.
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