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Useful Tropical Plants

Agave atrovirens

Karw. ex Salm-Dyck

Asparagaceae


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[
1855
Title
Two new species of Manfreda Salisb. (Agavaceae) from the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Publication
Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 135(2), 2008, pp. 168-177
Author
Hernández-Sandoval L., Orellana R. & Carnevali G.
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.3159/08-RA-023.1
Publisher
 
Year
2008
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
This species has been often confused in the literature with Agave salmiana[
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.
].

+ Synonyms

Agave canartiana Jacobi

Agave coccinea Roezl ex Jacobi

Agave deflexispina Jacobi

Agave gracilis Jacobi

Agave latissima Jacobi

Agave macroculmis Tod.

Agave mirabilis Trel.

Agave ottonis Jacobi

Agave schlechtendahlii Jacobi

Littaea gracilis Verschaff.

Common Name: Maguey Blanco

Agave atrovirens
Plant growing near S. Antonio Cuajimoloyas
Photograph by: Amante Darmanin
Creative Commons License
Agave atrovirens Agave atrovirens Agave atrovirens

General Information

Agave atrovirens is an evergreen, stemless, succulent plant forming a large, open rosette of leaves that can be 200 - 250cm tall and 300 - 400cm in diameter. Mature plants can produce around 40 - 70 spiny leaves that can each be up to 200cm long and 40cm wide near the base. After several years of growth, a flowering stem that can be up to 12 metres tall is produced, after which the rosette will die. However, the plant usually produces a number of offsets around its base that will develop as new plants[
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.
,
1207
Title
Flora del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/118975#/summary
Publisher
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Year
1993 - 2015
ISBN
968-36-3108-8
Description
An excellent flora (in Spanish) of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán biosphere reserve in southeastern Mexico. It can be downloaded from the Internet
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials. It is also collected from the wild for making the distilled beverage 'mezcal'. A glaucous form of this species is cultivated in Mexico for making the fermented beverage pulque[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
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.
]. It is also grown as a living fence and boundary marker, and to stabilize the soils on steep terraces[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
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.
].
Agave atrovirens is not commonly used, is relatively abundant, and its population is stable. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

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[
1846
Title
The Agaves of Baja California
Publication
Occasional Papers of the California Academy of Sciences, No. 130,
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
California Academy of Sciences; San Francisco
Year
1978
ISBN
0068-5461
Description
 
].

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.
,
1207
Title
Flora del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/118975#/summary
Publisher
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Year
1993 - 2015
ISBN
968-36-3108-8
Description
An excellent flora (in Spanish) of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán biosphere reserve in southeastern Mexico. It can be downloaded from the Internet

Range

Southern N. America - southern Mexico ((Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz)).

Habitat

Temperate and tropical moist montane forest; at elevations from 2,500 - 3,500 metres[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
]

Properties

Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height2.00 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Agave species are found mainly in the arid and semi-arid regions of southwestern N. America, especially in Mexico, extending from the warm temperate zone to the tropics often at moderate elevations. Many species can withstand at least a few degrees of frost, but only in drier regions and where soils are very well-drained.
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[
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.
].
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, 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. Over time, some species can form extensive clonal colonies by this means[
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.
].
Individual plants take about 7 - 15 years in their native habitat, considerably longer in colder climates, 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.
].
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
233
Title
Perennial Garden Plants
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons, London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0 460 86048 8
Description
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
].

Edible Uses

The flowering stem is roasted and eaten[
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.
].

Flower buds - cooked[
1207
Title
Flora del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/118975#/summary
Publisher
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Year
1993 - 2015
ISBN
968-36-3108-8
Description
An excellent flora (in Spanish) of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán biosphere reserve in southeastern Mexico. It can be downloaded from the Internet
].

The sap of the crushed stem bases is fermented to make the alcoholic beverage 'mescal'[
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 of the plant is used to make the fermented alcoholic beverage 'pulque'[
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 heart of the rosette, with the leaf bases, is slow-baked and used for making the distilled drink 'mezcal'[
1845
Title
Population Dynamics and Sustainable Management of Mescal Agaves in Central Mexico: Agave potatorum in the Tehuacán-C
Publication
Econ. Bot. 69(1): 26-41, 2015
Author
Toees I. et al
Website
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12231-014-9295-2.
Publisher
 
Year
2015
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

The cuticle of the young leaves of the central spike is used as a translucent wrapping for the Mexican dish 'mixiote', which is prepared for festive occasions[
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

None known

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is grown along the edges of fields as a fence and stock-proof barrier[
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.
,
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].
The plant is grown to fix the soil of terraces on steep cultivated slopes[
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 fibre from the leaves is used for making rope[
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/
]. The fibre is prepared by boiling the leaves for six hours, putting them through rollers, and then scraping. The fibre is white, wavy, and of medium strength[
1837
Title
Descriptive Notes on Fibres prepared for the Greater Britain and Paris Exhibitions
Publication
 
Author
Guilfoyle W.R.
Publisher
Melbourne Botanic Gardens; Melbourne
Year
1899
ISBN
 
Description
A list of more than 100 fibre-producing plant species with notes on how the fibre is ectracted.
].

The root contains saponins and can be used as a soap substitute[
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/
].

The dried flowering stem is used as fence posts and as poles when making huts etc[
1207
Title
Flora del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/118975#/summary
Publisher
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Year
1993 - 2015
ISBN
968-36-3108-8
Description
An excellent flora (in Spanish) of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán biosphere reserve in southeastern Mexico. It can be downloaded from the Internet
].

An extract of the heart of the rosette is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a humectant and skin conditioner[
1243
Title
CosIng
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/cosing/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
CosIng is the European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients.
].

Propagation

Seed - surface sow in a container in a light position. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15 - 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.
,
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.
]. 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.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2023-02-05. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Agave+atrovirens>

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