Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: an important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth. More >>>

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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)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Agave lechuguilla Ixtle, Chihuahua


wikimedia.org Stan Shebs
Agave lechuguilla Ixtle, Chihuahua
Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

 

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Summary

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

Synonyms

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

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Stem
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.

References

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.

References

Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More

FOOD FOREST PLANTS

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.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References

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].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • 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.

References

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:

Fahrenheit:

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

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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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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