The genus Agave is treated here in a wide sense to include taxa previously treated as belonging to the genera Manfreda, Prochnyanthes, Polianthes and Pseudobravoa. Not all botanists are happy with this treatment, with some feeling that these genera should remain distinct, at least until further studies have been carried out. In addition, given the high species diversity found in Agave, some feel that an alternative approach could be the recognition of several smaller genera within the current circumscription of Agave[
Common Name: Maguey de Piedra
Agave andreae is an evergreen, stemless, succulent plant forming a rosette of leaves that can be 80 - 230cm tall and 150 - 360cm in diameter. Mature plants can produce around 20 - 40 spiny leaves that can each be 90 - 150cm long and 12 - 14cm wide near the base. After several years of growth, a flowering stem that can be around 5 - 7.3 metres tall is produced, after which the rosette will die[
]. The plant occasionally produces suckers and these will continue to grow after the death of the parent plant[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is worthy of cultivation as an ornamental because of its very robust habit and spectacular inflorescence with brilliant orange-yellow flowers[
Agave andreae has a very restricted population size, and although it is not known to be declining, the continued presence of activities linked to illegal production and trafficking of substances in the region is a concern for the future of the species. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
Many Agave species have strong, sharp spines on the leaves and leaf tips.
In theory at least, the flowers, nectar, immature flowering stem and the centre of the rosette of all Agave species is edible and, with proper preparation, can provide a sweet, tasty foodstuff. Some species, however, contain relatively high levels of saponins (which makes them taste bitter) and some other compounds which can cause bellyache, and so these would only be eaten in times of desperation. In addition, many people may find these foods to be strongly laxative the first few times they eat them[
Southern N. America - western Mexico (Michoacán)
Limestone outcrops in tropical dry forest; at elevations from 1,230 - 1,700 metres[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Agave andraea is a plant of the semi-arid tropics of western Mexico. It grows in a region where the mean annual temperature is 20 - 24°c, and the mean annual rainfall is 1,000 - 1,200mm[
Agave species generally require a sunny position, succeeding in most soils of medium-fertility so long as they are very well-drained. Most species are undemanding as to the soil pH, though those found in the wild on limestone soils will grow better in neutral to alkaline conditions. Plants are generally very tolerant of dry conditions and of extended periods of drought[
Most Agave species are monocarpic, individual rosettes living for a number of years without flowering before sending up an often very large flowering stem and then dying after flowering and setting seed. This species, however, occasionally produces a number of new rosettes from suckers or offsets during its lifespan and these new plants will continue to grow after the death of the parent plant.
Individual plants take about 7 - 15 years in their native habitat, considerably longer in colder climates, before flowering[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
This species of agave is used medicinally in the region[
The plant is antiinflammatory and is traditionally used to treat internal contusions[
Seed - surface sow in a container in a light position. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15 - 20°c[
]. 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 10cm tall before planting out.
Offsets and suckers can be potted up at any time they are available.
Bulbils, where produced, are an easy method of propagation. Simply pot them up and plant out at the beginning of a growing season when they are 10cm or more tall.
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