If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Tropical Plants

Agave sisalana

Perrine

Asparagaceae

+ Synonyms

Agave amaniensis Trel. & Nowell

Agave rigida sisalana (Perrine) Engelm.

Agave segurae D.Guillot & P.Van der Meer

Common Name: Sisal

Agave sisalana
Cultivated plant
Photograph by: Lokal_Profil
Creative Commons License
Agave sisalana Agave sisalana Agave sisalana Agave sisalana Agave sisalana Agave sisalana

General Information

Sisal is an evergreen, succulent plant forming a large rosette of leaves 60 - 160cm long and, eventually, a flowering stem that can be up to 6 metres tall[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The plant is cultivated for its high quality fibre in many countries of the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate areas[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
]. Main cultivation areas are in NE Brazil, Mexico, Kenya and Tanzania. Furthermore cultivated in many other African countries, in Venezuela and Ecuador, the Antilles, Indonesia (Java, Sumatra), India (Orissa), Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, New Caledonia and Italy. Experimental plantations in Israel, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and further countries[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
]. The annual world production was 305.000 t in 1994. Besides its use as fibre crop, the species is cultivated for fences as well as for protection against soil erosion. The leaves provide one of the most important hard fibres which are used for production of ropes and all kinds of strings, fishing-nets, hammocks, door-curtains, floor-covers, bags etc. Short fibres, obtained as by-products, are used for production of cellulose, paper as well as for upholstery material and compost. The sharp leaf spines are traditionally used as needles in Central America. The waste is used as source of cortisone. The sap is also used for pulque production. The shoot buds may be cooked and eaten. Sisal waste is reported to be molluscicidal and fungistatic and can be used as mulch for plants. Sisal is a folk remedy for dysentery, leprosy sores, and syphilis. It is a source of hecogenin. Plants have been micropropagated in vitro. Apomictic pentaploid species which is seed-sterile and, therefore, clonally propagated. Precise origin unknown, possibly S Mexico (Yucatán - Brücher, , or Chiapas - Gentry, 1982). Since the early 20th cent., large plantations have been established outside Mexico, especially in E Africa, Indonesia, Haiti and Brazil, recently again re-introduced to Mexico

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/

Range

C. America - southern Mexico.

Habitat

Planted abundantly in some regions, and, often escaping, seen in many localities in hedges or fence-rows[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height1.50 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated

Cultivation Details

A plant of the drier tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 27°c, but can tolerate 10 - 45°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It can be killed by temperatures of -5°c or lower[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 900 - 1,250mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,800mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained soil. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7.5, tolerating 5.5 - 8[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The plant has escaped from cultivation in many of the areas in which it is cultivated and has become invasive in some areas including several of the Pacific Islands and Australia[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
Harvesting the leaves for fibre can begin 2 - 4 years after planting, depending on temperature, and usually continues for about 10, occasionally up to 20, years before the plant flowers and dies[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The average yield is about 0.9 tonnes/ha of dried fibres[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. On the best plantations in East Africa, yearly yields of 2.0 - 2.5 tonnes/ha of dried fibres are obtained[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A monocarpic species - the plant lives for a number of years without flowering but dies once it does flower. However, it normally produces plenty of suckers during its life and these continue growing, taking about 10 - 15 years in a warm climate, considerably longer in colder ones, before flowering[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
].
The roots rarely go deeper than about 35cm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
One ton of fibre removes about 30 kg N, 5 kg P, 80 kg K, 65 kg Ca and 40 kg Mg from the field. Because the fibres themselves contain few minerals, the majority of the nutrients can be returned to the land with the pulp[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Edible Uses

The heart of new shoots - cooked[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

The sap from the flower stalk is fermented to make an alcoholic drink[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].
The roots are used in the production of an alcoholic beverage[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Medicinal

Sisal is a folk remedy for dysentery, leprosy sores, and syphilis. It is a source of hecogenin[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].
The leaves contain hecogenin used in the partial synthesis of the drug cortisone[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is cultivated for fences as well as for protection against soil erosion[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].
Short fibres from the leaves, obtained as by-products, are used for production of compost[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Other Uses

A high quality fibre is obtained from the leaves[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].The leaves provide one of the most important hard fibres, it is used for making ropes and all kinds of strings, fishing-nets, hammocks, door-curtains, floor-covers, bags etc[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
]. The fibre cannot be spun as finely as jute and ropes tend to break suddenly[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Short fibres, obtained as by-products, are used for production of cellulose, paper as well as for upholstery material[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].
Fibres are also used to reinforce plaster boards and paper[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

The waste material, after extraction of the fibre, is reported to be molluscicidal and fungistatic and can be used as mulch for plants[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

The sharp leaf spines are traditionally used as needles[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].

Propagation

Seed - surface sow in a container in a light position. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20°c[
133
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1987
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position until they are at least 20cm tall.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-06-18. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Agave+sisalana>

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.