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Agave americana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Agavaceae
Genus: Agave
Species: A. americana
Binomial name
Agave americana
L., 1753[1]
Agave americana L. by Thomas Medland 1799

Agave americana, commonly known as the Century Plant or Maguey, is an agave originally from Mexico but cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant. It has since naturalised in many regions and grows wild in Europe, South Africa, India, and Australia.[2]

Contents

Growth

It has a spreading rosette (about 4 m/13 ft wide) of gray-green leaves up to 2 m (6.6 ft) long, each with a spiny margin and a heavy spike at the tip that can pierce to the bone. Its common name derives from its habit of only occasionally flowering, but when it does, the spike with a cyme of big yellow flowers may reach up to 8 m (26 ft) in height. The plant dies after flowering, but produces suckers or adventitious shoots from the base, which continue its growth. The average lifespan is around 10 years.

Cultivated varieties include the "marginata" with yellow stripes along the margins of each leaf, "medio-picta" with a central white band, "striata" with multiple yellow to white stripes along the leaves, and "variegata" with white edges on the leaves.[3]

Characteristics

It is also known as the American Aloe, although it is in a different family from the true aloes.

If the flower stem is cut without flowering, a sweet liquid called agua miel ("honey water") gathers in the heart of the plant. This may be fermented to produce the drink called pulque. The leaves also yield fibers, known as pita, which are suitable for making rope, matting, coarse cloth and are used for embroidery of leather in a technique known as piteado. Both pulque and maguey fibre were important to the economy of pre-Columbian Mexico. Production continues today to a much lesser extent. Agave nectar (also called agave syrup) has recently been marketed as a healthful natural sugar substitute.

Tequila is made from a different species, the Blue Agave (A. tequilana).

Subspecies

  • Agave americana var. americana
  • Agave americana var. expansa
  • Agave americana var. latifolia
  • Agave americana var. marginata
  • Agave americana var. medio-picta
  • Agave americana var. oaxacensis
  • Agave americana ssp. protamericana
  • Agave americana var. striata
  • Agave americana var. variegata


Pictures

Heraldry

The plant figures in the coat of arms of Don Diego de Mendoza, a Native American governor of the village of Ajacuba, Hidalgo.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Agave americana L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2005-05-23. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?1690. Retrieved 2010-01-12.  
  2. ^ Irish, Gary (2000). Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants: A Gardener's Guide. Timber Press. pp. 94-97. ISBN 9780881924428. http://books.google.com/books?id=YbVYuq73I0wC.  
  3. ^ Vermeulen, Nico. 1998. The Complete Encyclopedia of Container Plants, pp. 36-37. Netherlands: Rebo International. ISBN 90-366-1584-4
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Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Agave americana

Taxonavigation

Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Asparagales
Familia: Agavaceae
Genus: Agave
Specie: Agave americana
Subspecies: A. a. subsp. americana - A. a. subsp. americana americana - A. a. subsp. americana expansa - A. a. subsp. protamericana - A. a. subsp. moustroseforum
Variety: A. a. var. americana - A. a. var. expansa - A. a. var. latifolia - A. a. var. marginata - A. a. var.  medio-picta - A. a. var.  medio-picta alba - A. a. var. oaxacensis - A. a. var. picta A. a. var. striata - A. a. var. theometel -
Form: A. a. f. picta - A. a. f. virginica

Name

Agave americana, L.

References

  • USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database, 6 March 2006 (http://plants.usda.gov). Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
  • GBIF.

Vernacular names

Català: Atzavara
English: Century plant
Español: Agave amarillo, pita
Nederlands: Honderdjarige aloë
Runa Simi: Paqpa
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Agave americana on Wikimedia Commons.

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