Agave, succulent plants, so by definition, is not a personal opinion, even if some populations eat it daily, or give it to livestock. It is a very popular genus, both for its elegant bearing and for the extreme variety of species it presents.
We often find it in gardens, public and private, all over the world: if for us it is practically only ornamental, for other peoples it is of vital importance. For example in America, where she was born: in the southern area of North America, in the Caribbean islands, in the northern part of Central America. The Mexico it is the country that gives birth to the greatest number of varieties, from there it left for Europe from the eighteenth century onwards and has never stopped for the joy of our aesthetic sense.
The name "Agave”With which we call this plant comes from Linnaeus, in its parts, however, it is called with original names such as mezcal, of Indo-American origin, maguey, of presumed origin in the Antilles, e metl, of Nahuatl origin. For its longevity before flowering, it has also earned the nickname "century plant”.
There Agave plant it is classified as perennial, it is formed by a leaf rosette, then there is a very short stem that is not even seen. The dimensions are very variable, from species to species, but also from environmental conditions in which they grow. The width varies from 20 cm up to 5-6 meters, the height from 15 cm to 2.50 meters in height.
The leaves are fleshy, have a fibrous consistency, can even exceed 2 meters with a width of 20-25 cm. In the center they have a kind of woody thorn, sometimes branched towards the edges, they form a radial pattern around the central stem and gradually detach forming a star. They do this by forming a constant angle, as if inAgave there was a surveyor or software to measure. The color depends on the climate, if it's cold they tend to green-blue, they are green-gray in warmer climates.
Only when it reaches maturity, at 5 or 50, does theAgave he decides to bloom, shows his masterpiece for several months, then dies. The flower has six tepals and six stamens, today there are almost 200 species of this plant, with respective flowers, and another 50 including subspecies, forms and varieties.
The flowers can form directly on the stem or on branches that start from it, opening in a radial pattern. Everything happens at heights of 2 meters, as for the A. parviflora, or even 11 meters, as in the case of the A. americana, and a diameter of up to 25 cm.
There Agave plant it is often used to heal burns: just think that the Indians made compresses with the pulp of some species to soothe itches, wounds, sores or bruises. Other populations made it quite different: poison for fish or poison in which to dip arrowheads. Already in the 90s in Mexico the juice obtained from Agave leaves was used as a soap and the sapogenins of some species produced estrogen and cortisone, especially fromA. Sisalana.
The property of Agave for us Western Europeans today they are mainly aesthetic ones: we love to admire their flower in flower beds and gardens, but it is a limited vision as well summarized by Jesuit Josè de Acosta which calls the agave "the tree of wonders”(El árbol de las marvelillas).
A few examples: at least 9,000 years many plant parts are regularly eaten in America, and the Cochini Indians in Baja California regularly eatA. cerulata obtaining also a syrup, thick like honey, sweetener.
If in some regions of Mexico this plant is found in cattle feeders, on other occasions it is a basic ingredient for tasty drinks such as aguamiel and fermented pulque, then there are the famous spirits such as mescal (or mezcal) and tequila. Moving on to non-edible uses, we find agave fibers to create ropes, nets, baskets, clothes, blankets, rugs, bags and other everyday objects.
L'American Agave it is originally from Mexico but has conquered the entire Mediterranean area and other temperate places around the globe with its imposing beauty. At the base of the plant are rosettes of fleshy, triangular leaves, about 1 meter long, bluish-green, or variegated with creamy white. The whole plant can measure up to two meters and lives 15-20 years producing a light yellow tubular flower. then, as per tradition, the plant dies. L'american agave it is edible, both cooked and raw, moreover the sap, rich in sugars, is an excellent diuretic syrup or base for producing tequila.
Me too'Blue Agave it is native to Mexico and loves tropical climates, in the Mexican province of Jalisco, being the base for the production of tequila, it is an important economic resource. L'blue agave, also calledtequilana, has fleshy, greenish, watery leaves with quills, but which, if cut, appear gelatinous. Towards 7-8 years it produces an inflorescence.
L'Agave Attenuata it is one of the most amazing species, it comes from the desert areas of Mexico and as a natural plant it is very rare: it is often grown artificially. Like the others it has a fleshy appearance, it appears as a turgid and very watery succulent plant, it does not resist the cold but loves the heat very much.
The fact of having no thorns makes it more desirable and more elegant than ever, when it blooms it reaches a meter and a half in height and makes yellow, or in some cases, intense green masterpieces. From the flowers it is possible to obtain bulbs that can be subsequently used to reproduce the plant of Agave Attenuata in a continuous cycle, even in pots.
We mentioned it when talking about Agave in South America but we can also taste it Agave syrup. There is an organic one, sweetener, 500 ml at 14 euros, which gives sweetness without distorting the taste. It can be used both hot and cold or cooking desserts and cakes.
A step back and let's talk about the plant, indeed, one more step before: the seeds. You can buy a rich and assorted package also on Amazon and we can improvise growers of wonders: of agaves.
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