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Useful Tropical Plants

Agave bovicornuta

Gentry

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
 
].

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Cow's Horn Agave

No Image.

General Information

Agave bovicornuta is an evergreen, stemless, succulent plant forming a rosette of leaves that can be 80 - 100cm tall and 150 - 200cm in diameter. The more or less spoon-shaped leaves on mature plants can each be 60 - 100cm long and 14 - 20cm wide in the middle. After several years of growth, a flowering stem that can be around 5 - 7 metres tall is produced, after which the rosette will die[
1842
Title
The Agave Family in Sonora; Agriculture Handbook No. 399
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Agicultural Research Service, USDA; Washington D.C.
Year
1972
ISBN
 
Description
Gives quite a lot of information on the traditional uses of the plants.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and to make the distilled beverage 'mezcal'. An attractive plant, it is commonly grown as an ornamental[
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.
,
1842
Title
The Agave Family in Sonora; Agriculture Handbook No. 399
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Agicultural Research Service, USDA; Washington D.C.
Year
1972
ISBN
 
Description
Gives quite a lot of information on the traditional uses of the plants.
].
Agave bovicornuta has a relatively wide range but small and isolated subpopulations, its biology makes it particularly vulnerable since it only reproduces by seed and it dies after reproduction. It is suspected that the collection of plants and seeds for horticulture and the heavy harvest of flowers for human consumption has and will continue to cause declines in the population. The plant is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2019)[
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

The juice of the plant is caustic and produces a temporary dermatitis on tender skin, with a burning sensation, inñammation, and white welts or blisters. Some people are more susceptible than others. Washing with soap only increases the burning. It is better to wipe dry or wash with clear water only[
1842
Title
The Agave Family in Sonora; Agriculture Handbook No. 399
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Agicultural Research Service, USDA; Washington D.C.
Year
1972
ISBN
 
Description
Gives quite a lot of information on the traditional uses of the plants.
].
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
 
].

The Western Tarahumara use Agave vilmoriniana, which is rich in sapogenins, and Agave bovicornuta and Agave wocomahi, the toxic constituents of which are unknown, to stupefy fish trapped in rock enclosures or pools in rivers. The plants are mashed on a rock, the juices are allowed to drain into the river and then the mashed plants are thrown into the water. Several plants are needed to stupefy the trapped fish which, upon reaching the surface, are collected[
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.
]

Botanical References

1842
Title
The Agave Family in Sonora; Agriculture Handbook No. 399
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Agicultural Research Service, USDA; Washington D.C.
Year
1972
ISBN
 
Description
Gives quite a lot of information on the traditional uses of the plants.

Range

Southwestern N. America - northern Mexico (Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Sonora)

Habitat

Scattered in the areas between canyons, growing on open, rocky slopes associated with oaks (Quercus spp.); also in pine-oak forests and tropical dry forests; at elevations from 930 - 1,850 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.
,
1842
Title
The Agave Family in Sonora; Agriculture Handbook No. 399
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Agicultural Research Service, USDA; Washington D.C.
Year
1972
ISBN
 
Description
Gives quite a lot of information on the traditional uses of the plants.
].

Properties

Conservation StatusVulnerable
Edibility Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height1.00 m
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Agave bovicornuta is found in semi-arid regions in the warm temperate zone, extending south in Mexico into the tropical dry forests[
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.
]
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 does not produce shoots or bulbils and apparently it also requires cross pollination, thus when cultivated in gardens the plant dies in one generation when it reaches between 12 - 18 years old and flowers[
1842
Title
The Agave Family in Sonora; Agriculture Handbook No. 399
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Agicultural Research Service, USDA; Washington D.C.
Year
1972
ISBN
 
Description
Gives quite a lot of information on the traditional uses of the plants.
]. Some plants in gardens have been observed to live up to 30 years[
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.
].
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 flowers are washed to remove the bitterness and are eaten cooked[
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.
]. They are also used to make tortillas - this species being preferred over others to make this food[
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 heart of the rosette, after the leaves have been removed, is baked and used to prepare strong 'suguí' a fermented alcoholic beverage[
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 heart is occasionally used to make the distilled liquor 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
 
], though it is considered to be inferior to many other species[
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.
,
1841
Title
The Warihio Indians of Sonora-Chihuahua; An Ethnographic Survey (Anthropological Papers, No. 65)
Publication
Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 186 pp 61-144
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution
Year
1963
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent study
].
This species is not generally used to produce mescal because it has a caustic juice and a bitter taste[
1842
Title
The Agave Family in Sonora; Agriculture Handbook No. 399
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Agicultural Research Service, USDA; Washington D.C.
Year
1972
ISBN
 
Description
Gives quite a lot of information on the traditional uses of the plants.
].

Medicinal

None known

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - surface sow in a container in a light position. The fertile black seeds germinate readily and can easily be cultured in flats or pots during early stages[
1842
Title
The Agave Family in Sonora; Agriculture Handbook No. 399
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Agicultural Research Service, USDA; Washington D.C.
Year
1972
ISBN
 
Description
Gives quite a lot of information on the traditional uses of the plants.
]. 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. 2024-04-20. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Agave+bovicornuta>

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