If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Tropical Plants

Agave vera-cruz

Mill.

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
 
].
Agave lurida Aiton is treated here as a synonym of Agave vera-cruz, whilst in some other treatments it is seen as the correct name and Agave vera-cruz is cited as a synonym.
The IUCN Red List views Agave lurica as being 'Extinct in the wild' (https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/123986030/123986038 accessed 17/08/2020). However, it only cites the Mexican State of Oaxaca as its range, whilst other treatments also show Vera Cruz.
The species has also been found naturalized in various other countries, including Spain and India, presumably as a result of its former cultivation as a fibre plant.

+ Synonyms

Agave breviscapa A.Berger ex Roster

Agave cyanophylla Jacobi

Agave haworthiana M.Roem.

Agave lepida D.Dietr.

Agave lurida Aiton

Agave magni Desf.

Agave manguai Desf.

Agave mexicana Lam.

Agave polyphylla K.Koch

Agave vera-crucis Haw.

Agave vernae A.Berger

Common Name:

No Image.

General Information

Agave vera-cruz is an evergreen, very short-stemmed, succulent plant forming a rosette of leaves that can be 120 - 180cm tall and 200 - 340cm in diameter. Around 60 - 80 leaves are produced on mature plants, these can each be 110 - 150cm long and 12 - 18cm wide near the base. After several years of growth, a flowering stem that can be 6 - 8 metres tall is produced, after which the rosette will die[
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
 
].
The plant is harvested from the wild or cultivated for its fibre. It is occasionally harvested for food, mainly in times of need. The plant is sometimes grown as a living fence[
1848
Title
Characterization of Agave vera-cruz Mill Leaf Fiber for Textile Applications–An Exploratory Investigation
Publication
Journal of Natural Fibers, 9:4, 219-228, 2012
Author
Kanimozhi M. & Vasugi N.
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15440478.2012.733526
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
1544-0478
Description
 
].
After numerous expeditions to locate Agave lurida in its native habitat have failed, and due to its incredibly small range
where it should be possible to locate, this species is considered to be Extinct in the Wild (GarcíaMendoza, 2004). There are only a few specimens left in ex-situ collections, which is a concern for the extinction of this species in the near future. The plant is classified as 'Extinct in Wild' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2020)[
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

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 - southern Mexico (Veracruz, Oaxaca)

Habitat

Tropical dry shrubland in Mexico; at elevations from 1,800 - 1,900 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.
]. Naturalized in India, where it grows in waste places, along roadsides, and railway embankments[
1848
Title
Characterization of Agave vera-cruz Mill Leaf Fiber for Textile Applications–An Exploratory Investigation
Publication
Journal of Natural Fibers, 9:4, 219-228, 2012
Author
Kanimozhi M. & Vasugi N.
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15440478.2012.733526
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
1544-0478
Description
 
].

Properties

Conservation StatusExtinct in Wild
Edibility Rating *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height1.50 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, 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.
].
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 occasionally produces offsets, which can carry on growing after the death of the original rosette[
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
 
].
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

The tuberous hollow stem portion is eaten as a famine food in southern India. Only the stems from flowering plants, and where the flowers have opened out, are stated to be fit to eat. Each stem weighs around 25 - 35 kilos; the outer skin is scraped off, the stem washed well, then cut into small slices and washed once more. The slices are placed in a mud-pot and heated over a burning fire for two hours. The partially cooked material in the pot is allowed to remain over a low fire (without flame) for eight to ten hours when, again, the fire is raised and cooking continued for a further two hours. Thererafter, 450g of tamarind and 900g of treacle or jaggery (in solution) are added to the pot and cooking continued for another hour. The pot is removed from the flame and the water discarded. The material is then ready for eating[
1849
Title
Famine Foods
Publication
 
Author
Freedman R.
Website
https://www.purdue.edu/hla/sites/famine-foods/
Publisher
Purdue Agriculture, West Lafayette, Indiana
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website containing a still evolving database with brief details on more than 1,500 species of plants that have been eaten by people in times of need.
].

Medicinal

None known

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is used for hedging and fencing[
1848
Title
Characterization of Agave vera-cruz Mill Leaf Fiber for Textile Applications–An Exploratory Investigation
Publication
Journal of Natural Fibers, 9:4, 219-228, 2012
Author
Kanimozhi M. & Vasugi N.
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15440478.2012.733526
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
1544-0478
Description
 
].

Other Uses

This species affords a very good fibre, in texture like that of Agave americana[
1837
Title
Descriptive Notes on Fibres prepared for the Greater Britain and Paris Exhibitions
Publication
 
Author
Guilfoyle W.R.
Publisher
Melbourne Botanic Gardens; Melbourne
Year
1899
ISBN
 
Description
A list of more than 100 fibre-producing plant species with notes on how the fibre is ectracted.
]. The fibre is prepared by boiling the leaves for six hours, then forcing them through rollers, and scraping the flesh away[
1837
Title
Descriptive Notes on Fibres prepared for the Greater Britain and Paris Exhibitions
Publication
 
Author
Guilfoyle W.R.
Publisher
Melbourne Botanic Gardens; Melbourne
Year
1899
ISBN
 
Description
A list of more than 100 fibre-producing plant species with notes on how the fibre is ectracted.
]. (Reported as Agave mexicana Lam.)
A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for rope making, cordage, and twine, and its pulp is used in the paper industry[
1848
Title
Characterization of Agave vera-cruz Mill Leaf Fiber for Textile Applications–An Exploratory Investigation
Publication
Journal of Natural Fibers, 9:4, 219-228, 2012
Author
Kanimozhi M. & Vasugi N.
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15440478.2012.733526
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
1544-0478
Description
 
]. The fibre has a high strength with low elongation and low density, it is suitable for heavy industrial applications, for use in light-weight materials; as a reinforcement in composites; and potentially for acoustics purpose[
1848
Title
Characterization of Agave vera-cruz Mill Leaf Fiber for Textile Applications–An Exploratory Investigation
Publication
Journal of Natural Fibers, 9:4, 219-228, 2012
Author
Kanimozhi M. & Vasugi N.
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15440478.2012.733526
Publisher
 
Year
2012
ISBN
1544-0478
Description
 
].

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. 2024-04-20. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Agave+vera-cruz>

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.