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.