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Uses

Toxic parts

Contact with the fresh sap can cause dermatitis in sensitive people[1][2]. The plants have a very sharp and tough spine at the tip of each leaf. They need to be carefully sited in the garden.

Edible uses

Notes

The heart of the plant is very rich in saccharine matter and can be eaten when baked[3][4][5]. Sweet and nutritious, but rather fibrous[6]. It is partly below ground[7].

Seed - ground into a flour and used as a thickener in soups or used with cereal flours when making bread[4]. Flower stalk - roasted[4][8]. Used like asparagus[5].

Sap from the cut flowering stems is used as a syrup[9] or fermented into pulque or mescal[5]. The sap can also be tapped by boring a hole into the middle of the plant at the base of the flowering stem[6].

Leaves

Material uses

The plant contains saponins. An extract of the leaves is used as a soap[3]. The roots are used according to another report[2]. It is likely that the root is the best source of the saponins that are used to make a soap[K]. Chop up the leaves or the roots into small pieces and then simmer them in water to extract the saponins. Do not over boil or you will start to break down the saponins[K].

There is a report that the plant has insecticidal properties, but further details are not given[1][2]. A very strong fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making rope, coarse fabrics etc[3][10][4][2]. A paper can also be made from the leaves[3]. The thorns on the leaves are used as pins and needles[3]. The dried flowering stems are used as a waterproof thatch[3] and as a razor strop[11].

The plants are used in land-reclamation schemes in arid areas of the world[2].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The sap of agaves has long been used in Central America as a binding agent for various powders used as poultices on wounds[12]. The sap can also be taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery etc[12].

The sap is antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic and laxative[13][1][14]. An infusion of the chopped leaf is purgative and the juice of the leaves is applied to bruises[1]. The plant is used internally in the treatment of indigestion, flatulence, constipation, jaundice and dysentery[2]. The sap has disinfectant properties and can be taken internally to check the growth of putrefactive bacteria in the stomach and intestines[13]. Water in which agave fibre has been soaked for a day can be used as a scalp disinfectant and tonic in cases of falling hair[13]. Steroid drug precursors are obtained from the leaves[2]. A gum from the root and leaf is used in the treatment of toothache[1]. The root is diaphoretic and diuretic[14]. It is used in the treatment of syphilis[1][14].

All parts of the plant can be harvested for use as required, they can also be dried for later use. The dried leaves and roots store well[2].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Soil builder

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - surface sow in a light position, April in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20°c[15]. 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 in the greenhouse until they are at least 20cm tall. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold for at least their first few winters[K]. Offsets can be potted up at any time they are available. Keep in a warm greenhouse until they are well established[16].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Agave americana. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Requires a very well-drained soil and a sunny position[17][16].

The agave is not very hardy in Britain tolerating temperatures down to about -3°c if conditions are not wet[18]. It succeeds outdoors on the south coast of England from Torbay westwards[19]. Plants survived lower temperatures during the very cold winters from 1985/1987 and were unharmed at Glendurgan gardens in West Cornwall[K]. A monocarpic species, the plant lives for a number of years without flowering but dies once it does flower. However, it normally produces plenty of suckers during its life and these continue growing, taking about 10 - 15 years in a warm climate, considerably longer in colder ones, before flowering[19]. This plant is widely used by the native people in its wild habitat, it has a wide range of uses. In a warm climate suckers take 10 - 15 years to come into flower.

Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[20].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Agave americana. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Agave americana.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Agave americana
Genus
Agave
Family
Agavaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
9
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
Ecosystems
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Life
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
?
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Fertility
?
Pollinators
Flower Colour
?
Flower Type

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"image:Agave americana.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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References

  1. ? 1.01.11.21.31.41.51.61.7 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.12.22.32.42.52.62.72.82.9 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  3. ? 3.03.13.23.33.43.53.63.7 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  4. ? 4.04.14.24.34.44.5 Balls. E. K. Early Uses of Californian Plants. University of California Press ISBN 0-520-00072-2 (1975-00-00)
  5. ? 5.05.15.25.3 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  6. ? 6.06.16.2 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
  8. ? 8.08.1 Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-23310-3 (1976-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.112.2 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.113.213.3 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  14. ? 14.014.114.214.3 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
  15. ? Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 1. Thompson and Morgan. (1987-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.116.2 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  17. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  18. ? Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Conservatory and Indoor Plants Volumes 1 & 2 Pan Books, London. ISBN 0-330-37376-5 (1998-00-00)
  19. ? 19.019.119.2 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  20. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
  21. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-72

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