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[
Agave echinoides Jacobi
Bonapartea stricta (Salm-Dyck) Vukot.
Common Name: Rabo de León
Agave stricta is an evergreen, succulent plant with a short, decumbent, branched main stem. At the end of each branch there is a dense rosette of leaves that can be 40 - 70cm tall and 60 - 80cm in diameter. Each rosette can produce 100 or more narrow leaves that can each be 20 - 35cm long and around 1cm wide near the base, with a sharp point at their end. After several years of growth, the rosette produces a flowering stem that can be up to 2 - 3 metres tall, after which that rosette will die[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is often grown as an ornamental, valued especially for its dense rosette of long, narrow leaves[
Although it is impacted by agriculture, mining and collection, Agave stricta is not declining at a rate sufficient to qualify in a threat category. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2019)[
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[
Southwest N. America - southwest Mexico (Oaxaca, Puebla)
Limited to open calcareous slopes in tropical dry forest and shrublands[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|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[
Agave species are usually 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. However, unlike most Agave species, this species produces branches at the leaf axils and these develop into new rosettes. The plant can become a large dense cluster of rosettes up to 3 metres wide[
Individual plants take about 7 - 15 years in their native habitat, considerably longer in colder climates, before flowering[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
Flower buds - cooked[
The dried plants are used for 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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