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Useful Tropical Plants

Agave scabra

Ortega

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, and several others closely related to it, are quite dissimilar in appearance to most other members of the genus. In particular, they grow from a fleshy rootstock, have soft leaves and are drought-deciduous. They have at times been deemed sufficiently distinct from the Agave genus to be given their own specific name, Manfreda[
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 taxon Agave scabra Salm-Dyck (first published in 1859) is a synonym of Agave asperrima Jacobi.

+ Synonyms

Agave brachystachys Cav.

Agave humilis M.Roem.

Agave langlassei André

Agave oliveriana (Rose) A.Berger

Agave polianthoides M.Roem.

Agave polyanthoides Schltdl. & Cham.

Agave saponaria Lindl.

Agave sessiliflora Hemsl.

Agave spicata DC.

Manfreda brachystachys (Cav.) Rose

Manfreda malinaltenangensis Matuda

Manfreda oliveriana Rose

Manfreda scabra (Ortega) McVaugh

Manfreda sessiliflora (Hemsl.) Matuda

Polianthes brachystachys (Cav.) Shinners

Polianthes oliveriana (Rose) Shinners

Common Name:

No Image.

General Information

Agave scabra is a herbaceous perennial plant forming a rosette of leaves from a thick, fleshy rootstock. Around 12 - 15, soft, thin leaves are produced that can each be 25 - 35cm long and 2 - 4cm wide near the base, and often lie flat on the ground. The slender flowering stem can be 100 - 200cm tall. The plant loses its leaves and becomes dormant in dry seasons[
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 plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a source of soap. The rhizomes of this and several other closely related species used to be highly valued for their use as a soap. They were sold in large quantities in local markets all round the country[
1852
Title
Huaco and Amole: A Survey of the Uses of Manfreda and Prochnyanthes
Publication
Economic Botany, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1978), pp. 124-130
Author
Verhoek S.
Website
http://www.jstor.org/stable/4253919
Publisher
 
Year
1978
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

Known Hazards

The roots contain saponins and are used as a barbasco, or fish poison[
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/
].
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

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/
,
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

Central America - Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala to central Mexico

Habitat

Rocky slopes or in meadows, most often in oak or pine-oak forests, but also in tropical deciduous forests, thorn forests, (semi-) evergreen forests, cloud forests; at elevations from 100 - 3,100 metres[
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/
,
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
 
].

Properties

Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitPerennial
Height0.30 m
PollinatorsBats, Hawkmoths, Hummingbirds
Cultivation StatusWild

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

None known

Medicinal

None known

Other Uses

The fleshy roots are rich in saponins and form a lather when crushed in water[
1852
Title
Huaco and Amole: A Survey of the Uses of Manfreda and Prochnyanthes
Publication
Economic Botany, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1978), pp. 124-130
Author
Verhoek S.
Website
http://www.jstor.org/stable/4253919
Publisher
 
Year
1978
ISBN
 
Description
 
]. They are said to be used in Guatemala, especially by the indigenous peoples of the highlands, for washing textiles. They are used also for shampooing the hair because it is believed locally that they prevent baldness, a trait that is not very common amongst them[
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/
,
1852
Title
Huaco and Amole: A Survey of the Uses of Manfreda and Prochnyanthes
Publication
Economic Botany, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1978), pp. 124-130
Author
Verhoek S.
Website
http://www.jstor.org/stable/4253919
Publisher
 
Year
1978
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

The flower stalks are used as arrow shafts[
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/
].

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. 2024-04-24. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Agave+scabra>

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