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Useful Tropical Plants

Agave macroacantha

Zucc.

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

Agave besseriana De Smet ex Jacobi

Agave concinna Lem.

Agave flavescens Salm-Dyck

Agave integrifolia Baker

Agave linearis Jacobi

Agave oligophylla Baker

Agave pugioniformis Zucc.

Agave subfalcata Jacobi

Agave sudburyensis Baker

Common Name: Espadilla

No Image.

General Information

Agave macroacantha is an evergreen, succulent plant, sometimes with a short trunk up to 30cm high, on top of which is a rosette of leaves that can be 20 - 40cm tall and 30 - 50cm in diameter. Mature plants can produce around 50 - 70 spiny leaves that can each be up to 25cm long and 25mm wide near the base. After several years of growth, a flowering stem that can be up to 3 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 develop as new plants[
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
].
This is one of the main species in the genus for making the drink 'mezcal', a distilled alcoholic beverage that is very popular in Mexico and is also exported. The plant is also harvested from the wild for local use as a food, it is used for making living fences and is 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.
].
Agave macroacantha has a relatively small extent of occurrence, a rapid ongoing decline due to the collection of mature individuals for mescal production, and the fact that all individuals are confined to three locations. The plant is classified as 'Endangered' 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

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

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
,
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

Southern N. America - southwestern Mexico (Puebla, Oaxaca)

Habitat

Rocky or sediment-rich soils on mountain slopes; at elevations from 600 - 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.
]. Deciduous tropical forest and xerophytic scrub, growing in limestone, saline or gypsum soils; at elevations from 700 - 1,600 metres[
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
]

Properties

Conservation StatusEndangered
Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height0.40 m
PollinatorsBats, Moths, Hummingbirds
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, 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.
].
This species sometimes forms bulbils along the flowering stems.
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

Flower buds - 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.
,
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 used in the production of mescal[
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.
,
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
 
]. Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage that potentially can be made from almost any species of Agave, though only around fifty are used regularly and seven species are especially favoured. Mature plants are harvested from the wild, their leaves and roots are removed and the remaining 'hearts' are baked (often in an earth oven), then mashed and the resulting liquid allowed to ferment for a few days before being distilled to produce mezcal.

Medicinal

None known

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is grown as a living fence around agricultural fields, where it serves to keep out livestock[
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.
].
Occasionally, whole plants, mixed with other agave species, are used as a live fence[
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
].

Other Uses

None known

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. 2023-01-28. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Agave+macroacantha>

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