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Furcraea foetida - (L.) Haw.

Common Name Mauritius Hemp
Family Asparagaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards The leaves are used as a fish poison[348 ]. This is probably due to a high content of saponins in the leaves[K ].
Habitats Tropical highlands
Range Northern S. America - Colombia, Venezuela and the Guyanas, north to Costa Rica and the Caribbean
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Furcraea foetida Mauritius Hemp

Forest & Kim Starr www.starrenvironmental.com
Furcraea foetida Mauritius Hemp
wikimedia.org H.Zell


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Furcraea foetida is an evergreen Perennial growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Birds, Bees.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Agave bulbosa K.Koch Agave commelyni Salm-Dyck Agave foetida L. Agave gigantea (Vent.) D.Dietr. Agave madagascariensis (Haw.) Salm-Dyck Aloe foetida (L.) Crantz Fourcroya gigantea (Vent.) Hook. Funium piliferum Willemet Furcraea atroviridis Jacobi & Goeff. Furcraea barillettii Jacobi Furcraea commelyni (Salm-Dyck) Kunth Furcraea gigantea Vent. Furcraea madagascariensis Haw. Furcraea viridis Hemsl. Furcraea watsoniana Sander


Edible Uses

None known

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.

The root has been used as blood purifying remedy[317 ]. An infusion with sweet oil is drunk as a treatment for syphilis[348 ]. The root is mixed with gin and used as a treatment for back pain[348 ]. The leaves are febrifuge[348 ]. They are used in a preparation with molasses or honey to treat children's obstinate colds[348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: Used as a hedge plant in desert gardens[317 , 418 ]. Other Uses: A strong, good quality fibre is obtained from the leaves[46 , 317 ]. It is thinner and softer than sisal[317 ]. The fibre is usable for ropes and sacks[317 ]. The long, soft fibre is used alone or with other fibres in twine, sacks, hammocks, and other products[418 ]. It breaks down in salt water but withstands fresh water[418 ]. The macerated young leaves are used as a hair shampoo and a soap[348 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

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

A plant of the tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 23 - 30?c, but can tolerate 16 - 34?c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,100mm, but tolerates 700 - 2,500mm[418 ]. Requires a well-drained, medium to light soil and a sunny position[200 , 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 8[418 ]. Very drought tolerant, the plant is able to withstand a dry season of 8 months[418 ]. The plant has escaped from cultivation in some areas - in New Caledonia it has become a noxious weed[317 ]. The plants inflorescences produce bulblets in large quantities; these disperse naturally and form dense impenetrable stands which exclude native vegetation[413 ]. The plant takes 3 - 4 years before its first harvest, and thereafter it can be harvested every 2 - 3 years[418 ]. It has a total life span of 7 - 10 years[418 ]. Yields of between 60 - 90 tonnes/ha of green leaf can be obtained every other year, which compares to 2 - 3 tonnes of dry fibre[418 ]. Plants are monocarpic - they live for a number of years without flowering, then put all their energy into flowering and die afterwards[200 ].

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   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Seed - rarely produced[200 ]. Plants frequently produce large numbers of bulbils, which root and grow into new plants when they fall to the ground[200 ]. These bulbils have the capacity to remain viable for a number of years, even in unfavourable conditions[200 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Aloe hijau, Giant cabuya, Green aloe, Thinbaw-nanat-gyi

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

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

Asia, Australia, Central America*, East Africa, Fiji, French Guiana, Guianas, Guyana, Hawaii, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Marquesas, Mauritius, Myanmar, Pacific, SE Asia, Singapore, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Suriname, USA,

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.

The plant has escaped from cultivation in some areas - in New Caledonia it has become a noxious weed[317 ]. The plants inflorescences produce bulblets in large quantities; these disperse naturally and form dense impenetrable stands which exclude native vegetation[413 ].

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Furcraea acaulisCocuizaPerennial1.5 10-12 MLMHSNDM003
Furcraea andinaPacpa, FiquePerennial2.5 10-12 FLMNDM114
Furcraea cabuyaCabuyaPerennial2.0 9-11 FLMSNDM002
Furcraea hexapetalaFique, Cuban HempPerennial1.0 9-11 FLMHNDM012

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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Expert comment


(L.) Haw.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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