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Agave lechuguilla - Torr

Common Name Ixtle, Chihuahua
Family Asparagaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Sharp Leaves
Habitats Restricted to desert habitats preferring limestone soils and alluvial soils in xerophyllous scrub, the limit of the distribution goes up to Pine and Juniper forests.
Range Mesoamerica. Mexico; United States (Texas, New Mexico). Found only in the Chihuahuan Desert, where it is an indicator species.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Agave lechuguilla Ixtle, Chihuahua Stan Shebs
Agave lechuguilla Ixtle, Chihuahua
Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database


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Lechuguilla is a long-lived, drought-tolerant perennial. Lechuguilla provides important habitat and food to a diversity of Chihuahuan Desert mammals, reptiles, and birds but is poisonous to domestic livestock.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Agave lechuguilla is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Agave poselgeri, Agave multilineata, Agave lophantha var. tamaulipasana, Agave lophantha var. subcanescens, Agave lophantha var. poselgeri.


Edible Uses

The water stored in the flowering stalks of this plant, rich in salts and minerals, is sold in Mexico as a sport drink.

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.

Aztecs made a powerful antibiotic from a mixture of Lechuguilla juice and salt and used it as a dressing for wounds and a balm for skin infections.

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Other Uses

Carbon farming Solutions - Industrial Crop: fiber (Crops grown for non-food uses. Industrial crops provide resources in three main categories: materials, chemicals, and energy. Traditional materials include lumber and thatch, paper and cardboard, and textiles). Agroforestry Services: living fence (Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland). This species is mainly used in the fabrication of brushes and scrubbers (NatureServe 2009); the leaf fibres are used to make ropes (SpottedBird 2000). Utilization of lechuguilla fibers, soaps, foods, and drinks by southwestern people (US) was extensive historically and continues today. Lechuguilla fibers called "istles," Ixtili, or Tampico are strong and durable. Fibers were used to make ropes, twine, sacks, saddle cloths, basketry, paint brushes, sandals, hair brushes, and when formed into a cord was used in clothing construction. Lechuguilla nectar attracts hummingbirds, wasps, bees, butterflies, and beetles.

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Industrial Crop: Fiber  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

Climate: subtropical to tropical. Humidity: arid to humid. Lechuguilla is common on dry hills, plains, rocky slopes, and limestone highlands. Lechuguilla occupies habitats with semiarid continental climates. The Chihuahuan Desert averages 7.7 to 13.7 inches (196-348 mm) of annual precipitation, and summer temperatures above 100 °F (40 °C) are common. In the northern portion of the Chihuahuan Desert, precipitation averages 9.7 to 10.4 inches (245-265 mm), 70% to 80% of which falls in the summer. The average low winter temperature is 36 °F (2 °C) and mean summer high is 90 °F (31 °C). Throughout lechuguilla's range, the densest populations occur below 4,900 feet (1,500 m). Lechuguilla is shallowly rooted. The average depth is 4 inches (10 cm). It produces flowers after three to five years and dies after flowering. Threatened by deer and javelinas (peccaries) who eat it, however, it is poisonous to cattle. Carbon Farming Solutions - Cultivation: regional crop. Management: standard (Describes the non-destructive management systems that are used in cultivation) [1-1].

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Propagation from offshoots is the fastest and most reliable method of agave plant production. Agave are difficult to grow from seed. Seeds readily germinate but seedling establishment is rare. Temperatures exceeding 95 °F (35 °C), however, decrease germination percentages. The lack of "specialized germination requirements" may limit lechuguilla's ability to establish by seed.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

lechuguilla, Maguey lechuguilla, Shin Dagger, Tampico Fiber

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Mexico; United States (Texas, New Mexico).

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.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

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