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Agave tequilana - F.A.C.Weber

Common Name Blue Agave, Mescal, Tequila.
Family Asparagaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Many Agave species have strong, sharp spines on the leaves and leaf tips. In theory, at least, the flowers, nectar, immature flowering stem and the centre of the rosette of all Agave species are edible and, with proper preparation, can provide a sweet, tasty foodstuff. Some species, however, contain relatively high levels of saponins (which makes them taste bitter) and some other compounds which can cause bellyache, and so these would only be eaten in times of desperation. In addition, many people may find these foods to be strongly laxative the first few times they eat them[1846 ].
Habitats Native to the arid highlands of Mexico. Prefers sandy soils in arid and semi-arid subtropical areas.
Range C. America to southern N. America - Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Full sun
Agave tequilana Blue Agave, Mescal, Tequila.


Stan Shebs
Agave tequilana Blue Agave, Mescal, Tequila.
Stan Shebs

 

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Summary

A fleshy succulent to 2m that is grown commercially in Mexico as the base ingredient for tequila.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Agave tequilana is an evergreen Perennial growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bats.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Agave angustifolia tequilana (F.A.C.Weber) Valenz.-Zap. & Nabhan Agave palmaris Trel. Agave pedrosana Trel. Agave pes-mulae Trel. Agave pseudotequilana Trel.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Sap
Edible Uses:

The sap of the plant is concentrated to make a sugar-rich syrup known as 'Agave syrup' or 'Agave nectar'[301 ]. The sugar-rich sap is extracted from the roasted bases of the defoliated flowering stems of the plants shortly before flowering, and is then fermented and distilled into mescal and tequila[301 , 317 , 1845 ]. Tequila is a distilled alcoholic beverage similar to mezcal, but only made in a small region of Mexico and only from a limited number of species. Mature plants are harvested from the wild, their leaves and roots are removed and the remaining 'hearts' are baked (often in an earth oven), then mashed and the resulting liquid allowed to ferment for a few days before being distilled to produce tequila.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

A fibre is obtained from the leaves[317 ]. Known as 'Jarsia', the fibres are soft enough to be used for yarn production[317 ]. The squeezed shoot axes are used to stabilize loam-bricks[317 ]. Recently, blue agave has also been suggested as a potential source of ethanol (biofuel).

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Management: Standard  Regional Crop  Staple Crop: Basic Starch  Staple Crop: Sugar

Requires a sunny position[423 ]. Requires a well-drained soil[423 ]. Succeeds in poor soils[423 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[423 ]. The plant favours altitudes of more than 1,500 metres (5,000 ft) and grows in rich and sandy soils. A monocarpic species - the plant lives for a number of years without flowering but dies once it does flower. However, it normally produces plenty of suckers during its life and these continue growing, taking about 10 - 15 years in a warm climate, considerably longer in colder ones, before flowering[11 ]. The cultivar 'Azul', or blue agave, is preferred for tequila production[301 ]. Specimens have been recorded living up to 50 years in gardens. Blue agaves sprout a stalk (quiote) when about five years old that can grow an additional 5 metres (16ft); they are topped with yellow flowers. The stalk is cut off from commercial plants so the plant will put more energy into the heart.

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.
  • Staple Crop: Basic Starch  The Carbon Farming Solution. Eric Toensmeier.
  • Staple Crop: Sugar  Perennial sugar crops include sugarcane and compare favorably to annuals.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Fahrenheit:

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Plant Propagation

Seed - surface sow in a container in a light position. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20°c[133 ]. Prick out the seedlings into pots of well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position until they are at least 20cm tall. Matures Agave produces “pups,” or outgrowths on the base of the plant used for propagation.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Blue agave, Chino azul

NORTHERN AMERICA: Mexico, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Puebla,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

some closely related species are invasive. For this reason, blue agave has been identified as a weed, though a relatively low risk one.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Agave fourcroydesHenequenPerennial1.8 10-12 MLMHNDM013
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Agave salmianaPulque Agave, Giant AgavePerennial2.0 9-11 MLMHNDM302
Agave sisalanaSisalPerennial2.0 9-11 FLMHSNDM224
Agave utahensisCentury PlantPerennial2.0 6-10 MLMNDM222
Agave utahensis discretaCentury PlantPerennial4.0 8-11  LMNDM312
Agave utahensis eborispinaCentury PlantPerennial4.0 8-11  LMNDM312
Agave viviparaMescal CaseroPerennial1.0 10-12 MLMHNDM303

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

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Author

F.A.C.Weber

Botanical References

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