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Useful Tropical Plants

Agave cocui

Trel.

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: Cocuy

No Image.

General Information

Agave cocui is an evergreen, stemless, succulent plant forming a rosette of leaves that can be around 250cm in diameter. The leaves on mature plants can each be 100 - 120cm long and 20 - 30cm wide near the base. After several years of growth, a flowering stem that can be around 6 - 8 metres tall is produced, after which the rosette will die. However, the plant usually produces a number of young plants around its base that will continue to grow after the death of the parent plant.
The plant is harvested from the wild for its good quality fibre and also for making a fermented beverage known as 'Cocuy de Penca'. This beverage has become popular in Venezuela, where it is traded nationally, and small-scale cultivation of the plant has been taking place since around 2000[
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 cocui has a wide range; even though subpopulations in parts of its range are heavily harvested for the production of the beverage 'cocuy de penca' and are likely to be driven to extirpation, the species has large stable subpopulations in the Venezuelan Andean region and the western part of the country. In Colombia the species could qualify as Vulnerable, given that there is an estimated national population of less than 10,000 mature individuals, small subpopulations and a continuing decline caused by unsustainable harvest of the species, wood extraction and the increment of small scale agriculture on its habitat. Globally, the plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2020)[
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

1844
Title
Agave Agavaceae
Publication
Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons, pp 21-311
Author
Thiede J.
Website
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-56486-8_111
Publisher
Springer Nature
Year
2020
ISBN
 
Description
 

Range

Northern S. America - Colombia, Venezuela.

Habitat

Arid and semiarid habitats, in tropical dry forest and xerophyllous scrub, on colluvial material and outcrops on canyon cliffs; at elevations from near sea level to 1,700 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 *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height1.50 m
PollinatorsBats, Bees, Hummingbirds
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details


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. In addition, many bulbils are usually produced on the flowering stem, these root easily and can be used for propagation[
1844
Title
Agave Agavaceae
Publication
Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons, pp 21-311
Author
Thiede J.
Website
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-56486-8_111
Publisher
Springer Nature
Year
2020
ISBN
 
Description
 
].
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.
].
This species uses the 'Crassulacean Acid Metabolism' (CAM) pathway to photosynthesis, a mechanism which aids in conserving moisture. The plant keeps its stomata closed during the day, opening them during the night when it takes in carbon dioxide and stores it in compounds such as malic acid. It then utilizes this carbon dioxide when photosynthesizing during the day. This type of mechanism is used by a range of mainly succulent plants, including cacti and Euphorbia species[
1851
Title
Agave cocui: un noble de las zonas áridas de Venezuela
Publication
Desde el Herbario CICY 10: 137-143, 2018
Author
Diaz M., Yepex L. & Gotopo E.
Website
http://www.cicy.mx/sitios/desde_herbario/
Publisher
 
Year
2018
ISBN
2395-8790
Description
 
].
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 heart of the rosette, with the leaves removed, was used traditionally as a staple food[
1851
Title
Agave cocui: un noble de las zonas áridas de Venezuela
Publication
Desde el Herbario CICY 10: 137-143, 2018
Author
Diaz M., Yepex L. & Gotopo E.
Website
http://www.cicy.mx/sitios/desde_herbario/
Publisher
 
Year
2018
ISBN
2395-8790
Description
 
]. After slow-baking the hearts become very sweet because the carbohydrates in the heart are converted into sugars. The cooked hearts were eaten immediately after cooking as a main food, or were dried for later use. They could also be juiced to make a sweet drink, which was then sometimes fermented to make an alcoholic drink[1851.
In more modern times, the juice is often distilled to make a strong, mezcal-like drink called 'cocuy de penca'. It has become very popular in Venezuela[
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 flowers and flower buds are used to make preserves and pickles[
1851
Title
Agave cocui: un noble de las zonas áridas de Venezuela
Publication
Desde el Herbario CICY 10: 137-143, 2018
Author
Diaz M., Yepex L. & Gotopo E.
Website
http://www.cicy.mx/sitios/desde_herbario/
Publisher
 
Year
2018
ISBN
2395-8790
Description
 
].

Medicinal

The plant (part not specified) is used as an antiseptic dressing on wounds[
1851
Title
Agave cocui: un noble de las zonas áridas de Venezuela
Publication
Desde el Herbario CICY 10: 137-143, 2018
Author
Diaz M., Yepex L. & Gotopo E.
Website
http://www.cicy.mx/sitios/desde_herbario/
Publisher
 
Year
2018
ISBN
2395-8790
Description
 
].

Other Uses

A good quality, soft and strong fibre is obtained from the young leaves[
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.
,
1851
Title
Agave cocui: un noble de las zonas áridas de Venezuela
Publication
Desde el Herbario CICY 10: 137-143, 2018
Author
Diaz M., Yepex L. & Gotopo E.
Website
http://www.cicy.mx/sitios/desde_herbario/
Publisher
 
Year
2018
ISBN
2395-8790
Description
 
]. Called 'dispopo', it is used to make hammocks, ropes, footwear, dolls, bags and various other crafts[
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.
,
1851
Title
Agave cocui: un noble de las zonas áridas de Venezuela
Publication
Desde el Herbario CICY 10: 137-143, 2018
Author
Diaz M., Yepex L. & Gotopo E.
Website
http://www.cicy.mx/sitios/desde_herbario/
Publisher
 
Year
2018
ISBN
2395-8790
Description
 
].

The leaves contain saponins and can be used to make soap[
1844
Title
Agave Agavaceae
Publication
Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons, pp 21-311
Author
Thiede J.
Website
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-56486-8_111
Publisher
Springer Nature
Year
2020
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

The dried flowering stems are used as beams and frames in traditional houses[
1851
Title
Agave cocui: un noble de las zonas áridas de Venezuela
Publication
Desde el Herbario CICY 10: 137-143, 2018
Author
Diaz M., Yepex L. & Gotopo E.
Website
http://www.cicy.mx/sitios/desde_herbario/
Publisher
 
Year
2018
ISBN
2395-8790
Description
 
].

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. 2024-04-20. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Agave+cocui>

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