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 Blanco
Agave temacapulinensis is an evergreen, stemless, succulent plant forming a rosette of leaves that can be 8 - 115cm tall and 172cm in diameter. Around 20 - 25 leaves are produced on mature plants, each of which can be 55 - 90cm long and 15 - 20cm wide near the base. After several years of growth, a flowering stem that can be around 5 - 6.5 metres tall is produced, after which the rosette will die. However, the plant sometimes produces a number of young plants around its base that will develop as new plants.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and food wrap.
Agave temacapulinensis has an extremely small range and extent of occurrence, it occurs in only one location and this is heavily affected by agriculture and livestock, and almost entirely within the area soon to be occupied by the Zapotillo dam reservoir, which is nearly completed. Once the reservoir is filled, only 20% of the population will remain. The plant is classified as 'Critically Endangered' 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[
Southwestern N. America - western Mexico (Jalisco)
This species is known to grow at ecotones between the Juniperus, Taxodium and thorn gallery forests in calcareous outcrops; at elevations from 1,600 - 1,700 metres[
|Conservation Status||Critically Endangered
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. This species, however, sometimes 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.
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[
The leaves are used to wrap foods that are being cooked[
The leaf cuticle is used as a wrap to cook the Mexican dish known as 'mixiote'[
]. The tough semi-transparent outer skin of the young leaves is used to wrap small parcels of food that are then baked or barbecued. This gives the food a unique flavour.
The plant is used to relieve internal pain caused from contusions and to act as an antiinflammatory[
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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