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Agave parryi - Engelm.

Common Name Century Plant, Parry's agave, Mescal
Family Agavaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards The plants have a very sharp and tough spine at the tip of each leaf. They need to be carefully sited in the garden.
Habitats Semi-arid land, 1300 - 2400 metres[181]. Gravelly to rocky places in grasslands, desert scrub, chaparral, pinyon-juniper, and oak woodlands, 1200 - 2800 metres Ariz., N.Mex.; nw Mexico[270].
Range South-western N. America - Arizona to New Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Agave parryi Century Plant, Parry


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Keith_Edkins
Agave parryi Century Plant, Parry
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:BS_Thurner_Hof

 

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Summary

The Agave genus, belonging to the Asparagus family (Asparagaceae), includes various species such as Goldenflower Agave, Desert Agave, Palmer’s Agave, Parry’s Agave, and Utah Agave. These plants are historically significant as food sources for Native Americans, who consumed their caudices (crowns, heads, or hearts), flower stalks, flower buds, flowers, and seeds. While these parts are edible, extensive preparation is needed to reduce saponins and irritating soap-like compounds in all of the agave—traditional preparation involves baking the parts in fire pits, enhancing their flavour and texture. The crowns and flower stalks are the most valuable, often baked and consumed immediately or stored for later use. Agave syrup can also be made from the baked crowns. Agave flowers and seeds are generally not suitable for consumption due to their acrid taste and the presence of potentially harmful compounds. Dislodging agave plants and removing their leaves is labour-intensive, requiring tools like a sharp axe. Agave blooms in late spring to early summer, and its flowers, while not ideal for human consumption, play an essential role in the ecosystem, supporting wildlife. Some agave species are protected, and their collection may be restricted to ensure conservation [2-3].


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Agave parryi is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Moths, bats.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds; South Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Sap  Seed  Stem
Edible Uses:

The heart of the plant is very rich in saccharine matter and can be eaten when baked[2, 105]. Sweet and nutritious, but rather fibrous[213]. It is partly below ground[85]. Seed - ground into a flour and used as a thickener in soups or used with cereal flours when making bread[92]. Young flower stalk - raw or cooked[257]. It was generally roasted[177, 183]. Tender young leaves - roasted[161]. Sap from the cut flowering stems is used as a syrup[177]. Nectar from the flowering stems is made into a sweet syrup[183]. The sap can also be tapped by boring a hole into the middle of the plant at the base of the flowering stem[213]. It can be fermented into 'Mescal', a very potent alcoholic drink[213]. Parts Used: Caudices (crowns, heads, or hearts), flower stalks, flower buds, flowers, and seeds. Preparation: Extensive preparation is often required. Cooking reduces saponins (irritating soap-like compounds). Harvesting: Crowns can be gathered anytime, traditionally, when flower stalks emerge. Flower stalks are best gathered when they first appear (April to June), while still soft. Traditional Method: Native Americans baked agave flower stalks and crowns in fire pits overnight. Baked parts can be consumed immediately or stored for future use. Agave syrup is made by boiling baked crowns with water [2-3].

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.
Antiseptic  Diuretic  Laxative  Miscellany

The sap is antiseptic, diuretic and laxative[21].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fibre  Miscellany  Needles  Paper  Pins  Soap  Thatching

The leaves contain saponins and an extract of them can be used as a soap[2]. It is best obtained by chopping up the leaves and then simmering them in water - do not boil for too long or this will start to break down the saponins[K]. A very strong fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making rope, coarse fabrics etc[2, 61, 92]. A paper can also be made from the fibre in the leaves[2]. The thorns on the leaves are used as pins and needles[2]. The dried flowering stems are used as a waterproof thatch[2] and as a razor strop[89].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Historic Crop  Management: Standard  Staple Crop: Basic Starch

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Specimen. Requires a very well-drained soil and a sunny position[1, 200]. This species is probably the hardiest member of the genus, it survives outdoors grown against a warm wall at Kew[11]. In the wild, plants often experience snow during the winter with temperatures as low as -18°c for short periods[181]. 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 take about 10 - 15 years in a warm climate, considerably longer in colder ones, before flowering[11]. This plant is widely used by the native people in its wild habitat, it has a wide range of uses. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233]. Special Features:Attracts birds, Attractive foliage, North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Flowers are rare, Attractive flowers or blooms. Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer. Wildlife: Flowers are better left for wildlife as they contain acrid compounds, making them unpalatable for human consumption. Environmental Impact: Some species are protected, so gathering may be restricted in certain areas [2-3]. Challenges: Dislodging an agave is difficult and requires tools like a sharp axe. Preparation: Removing leaves to access crowns is challenging due to their toughness and spines  [2-3].

Carbon Farming

  • Historic Crop  These crops were once cultivated but have been abandoned. The reasons for abandonment may include colonization, genocide, market pressures, the arrival of superior crops from elsewhere, and so forth.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Staple Crop: Basic Starch  The Carbon Farming Solution. Eric Toensmeier.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - surface sow in a light position, April in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20°c[133]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse until they are at least 20cm tall. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold for at least their first few winters[K]. Offsets can be potted up at any time they are available. Keep in a warm greenhouse until they are well established[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Agave americanaAgave, American century plantPerennial7.5 8-11 SLMNDM333
Agave cantala agaveAgavePerennial2.0 9-12 FLMHNDM204
Agave chrysanthaGolden-flowered AgavePerennial1.0 9-11 MLMHNDM212
Agave desertiDesert AgavePerennial0.4 9-11 MLMHNDM303
Agave fourcroydesHenequenPerennial1.8 10-12 MLMHNDM013
Agave lechuguillaIxtle, ChihuahuaPerennial0.6 10-12 MLMHNDM124
Agave murpheyiHohokam Agave, Murphey agavePerennial1.0 8-12 SLMHNDM204
Agave palmeriPalmer’s agavePerennial1.0 7-11 MLMHNDM302
Agave salmianaPulque Agave, Giant AgavePerennial2.0 9-11 MLMHNDM302
Agave sisalanaSisalPerennial2.0 9-11 FLMHSNDM224
Agave tequilanaBlue Agave, Mescal, Tequila.Perennial2.0 10-12 MLMHND403
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.

 

Expert comment

Author

Engelm.

Botanical References

11200270

Links / References

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Readers comment

   Nov 29 2010 12:00AM

The plant multiply on its root system. Dont plant close to road or driveway will come up and start breaking up the asphalt or concrete.

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