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Agave is the name of a succulent plant of a large botanical genus of the same name, belonging to the family Agavaceae.
Additional recommended knowledge
Chiefly Mexican, they occur also in the southern and western United States and in central and tropical South America. The plants have a large rosette of thick fleshy leaves generally ending in a sharp point and with a spiny margin; the stout stem is usually short, the leaves apparently springing from the root. Along with plants from the related genus Yucca, various Agave species are popular ornamental plants. Each rosette is monocarpic and grows slowly to flower only once. During flowering a tall stem or "mast" grows from the center of the leaf rosette and bears a large number of shortly tubular flowers. After development of fruit the original plant dies, but suckers are frequently produced from the base of the stem which become new plants. It is a common misconception that Agaves are a cactus. Agaves are closely related to the lily and amaryllis families, and are not related to cacti.
Agave species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Batrachedra striolata, which has been recorded on A shawii.
Commonly grown species
One of the most familiar species is Agave americana, a native of tropical America. Common names include Century Plant, Maguey (in Mexico), or American Aloe (it is not, however, closely related to the genus Aloe). The name "Century Plant" refers to the long time the plant takes to flower, although the number of years before flowering occurs depends on the vigor of the individual, the richness of the soil and the climate; during these years the plant is storing in its fleshy leaves the nourishment required for the effort of flowering.
Agave americana, century plant, was introduced into Europe about the middle of the 16th century and is now widely cultivated for its handsome appearance; in the variegated forms the leaf has a white or yellow marginal or central stripe from base to apex. As the leaves unfold from the center of the rosette the impression of the marginal spines is very conspicuous on the still erect younger leaves. The tequ plants are usually grown in tubs and put out in the summer months, but in the winter require protection from frost. They mature very slowly and die after flowering, but are easily propagated by the offsets from the base of the stem.
A. attenuata is a native of central Mexico and is uncommon in its natural habitat. Unlike most species of Agave, A. attenuata has a curved flower spike from which it derives one of its numerous common names - the foxtail agave.
A. attenuata is also commonly grown as a garden plant. Unlike many agaves, A. attenuata has no teeth or terminal spines making it an ideal plant for areas adjacent to footpaths. Like all agaves, A. attenuata is a succulent and requires little water or maintenance once established .
Four major parts of the agave are edible: the flowers, the leaves, the stalks or basal rosettes, and the sap (called aguamiel—honey water).(Davidson 1999)
Agave is a genus within the family Agavaceae, which is currently placed within the order Asparagales. Agaves were once classified in Liliaceae, but most references now include them in their own family, Agavaceae. The genus Agave is divided into two subgenera: Agave and Littaea.
Agaves have long presented special difficulties for taxonomy; variations within a species may be considerable, and a number of named species are of unknown origin and may just be variants of original wild species.
Spanish and Portuguese explorers probably brought agave plants back to Europe with them, but the plants became popular in Europe during the 19th century when many types were imported by collectors. Some have been continuously propagated by offset since then, and do not consistently resemble any species known in the wild, although this may simply be due to the differences in growing conditions in Europe.
Images of Agave species or cultivars
There are many species of Agave, see the List of Agave species.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Agave". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|