An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.
Agave - Agave americana (Agave altissima) - family: Agavaceae (Agave Family).
This perennial succulent is found in the desert areas of the American
Southwest and neighboring parts of Mexico. It produces a basal rosette of
leaves that are thick fleshy spiny and bluish-green in color and may grow
to six feet long. This plant grows to a height of up to six feet and may
wait for up to twenty years before putting up its stalk of blooms. This
one-time blooming stalk may reach the height of twenty-five feet and produces
yellowish-green flowers. After flowering and seeding, the Agave dies. The
leaves are distilled and fermented to produce several alcoholic beverages:
mescal, pulqué and tequila. Traditional Mexican use of pulqué
as a folk aphrodisiac. Other species in the Agave genus are also employed
as a base for these alcoholic beverages. These drinks were used in Mexico
as a folk remedy for nervous conditions. Plant juice (sap) was used as a
traditional folk remedy in Mexico for dysentery and diarrhea. The heart
of the plant is edible after being baked at 350° F for ten hours! Note:
fresh sap of plant may be irritating to the skin. Native to Mexico and tropical
America. Cultivated as an ornamental in warmer parts of southwestern United
States. Cultivated as a base for alcoholic beverages in Mexico. At least
three cultivars exist. Tender below 42° F.
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Web page last updated on 18 May 2003.