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
Agave cundinamarcensis is an evergreen, stemless, succulent plant forming a rosette of leaves. The leaves on mature plants can each be up to 200cm long and 45cm wide near the base. After several years of growth, a flowering stem is produced, after which the rosette will die.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of fuel. This species is used locally as an ornamental, for which mature individuals are extracted from the wild[
Agave cundinamarcensis is restricted to a small Andean region of central Colombia, growing in two distinct habitats, and found in only five different locations where it occurs in small isolated subpopulations. The species is facing a rapid decline on its population size and extent and quality of habitat due to the expansion of agriculture, farming and urban areas as well as tourist activities. The plant is classified as 'Endangered' 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[
Northern S. America - Colombia
Grasslands and amongst xerophitic shrubs; at elevations from 600 - 1,300 metres.
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
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[
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.
Individual plants take about 7 - 15 years in their native habitat, considerably longer in colder climates, before flowering[
The plant usually produces some bulbls along the flowering stem[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
The young individuals locally called 'pine', were historically used as a cooked vegetable[
The dry inflorescence, harvested after seed has been set, is used as fuel[
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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