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Agave Genus

Mescal

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General Needs

  • LightFull sun
  • HardinessHalf hardy (min 0°C)
  • SoilWell drained, Gritty
  • WaterSemi-moist

Description

Agave genus (Mescal). This genus of some 136 species consists of rosette-forming, perennial succulents, which have sword-shaped, sharply toothed leaves. The smaller species will grow to 30cm high and flower only after 5-10 years. The taller species will grow to 5m high and may take 20-40 years to flower. Agave have lived on Earth for some 60 million years.

Characteristics

Perennials, Evergreens, Monocarpics, Succulents or Cactus

Other common names

Sisal

Origin

Southern Mexico, northern South America, West Indies.

The name Agave may be derived from the Greek word 'agavnos' meaning 'admirable'; a reference to the handsome form of the leaves and flowers.

Interest and use

Agave tequilana is pulped and fermented, turning the sugars into alcohol, to create the Mexican drink Tequila. Agave sisalana, or sisal, is made from the leaf fibres of the plant. Uses include strong, sunlight resistant rugs and carpets, cords, sandals and baskets.

Cultivation

Most of the species have hard, blue-grey leaves that are half hardy, whilst the grey-green or green leaved species are usually frost tender, min 5C. Grow them in full sun with well drained soil. In their native habitat, Agave will survive hot deserts and dry, sunny mountain sides.

Propagation

Propagation is by seed or offsets in the spring or summer.

Pests, diseases or disorders

Prone to scale insects, particularly on young growth.

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