There are more than 150 agave plant species known, and each one of them is pretty similar in appearance and properties, and they’re spread all over Mexico and Central America. Ancient Aztecs once used these plants for medicinal purposes. They were introduced to Spain in the 16th century and quickly spread over the Mediterranean coastline.
A fiber used to make ropes is obtained from the agave plant and similar species. The fleshy leaves of some agave species growing in Mexico produce a sweet sap or juice known as maguey juice, from which several alcoholic beverages are made. These beverages are dangerous because of their high alcoholic content: pulque, tequila, and mescal.
Agave Plant Scientific Facts
- Other names: Century plant, American agave, American century, flowering aloe, spiked aloe.
- French: Agave d’Amerique
- Spanish: Agave.
- Environment: Native to Central America, it grows in semi-arid, elevated soils. It is extensively cultivated in the Oaxaca Valley (Mexico), and it has been naturalized to Mediterranean countries, where it grows in parks and gardens as an ornamental plant.
- Description: Plant of the Amaryllidaceae family, with large, fleshy, point-tipped, spiked basal leaves (up to one meter large). Its flowers grow on the tip of a 6 m high stem.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The root, the leaves, and the sap.
Healing Properties and Uses
All plants of the agave genus contain steroid glycosides, among which the most outstanding are hecogenin and saponins. The root and the leaves obtain their diuretic and blood depurative properties from these substances and are successfully used for edema and retention of liquids.
In Mexico and Central American countries, agave is traditionally used for infectious diseases, digestive disorders, jaundice, and hepatitis. Externally applied, the juice or sap flowing from the stem has vulnerary and wound-healing properties. It is used in compresses for bruises and skin wounds.
How to use Agave
- Infusion with 30 grams of root or ground dry leaves per liter of water. Drink three or four cups daily, sweetened with honey.
- Compresses with the juice or sap of the leaves, applied on the affected skin area.
Agave Plants For Sale
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 558. Print.[agave plant]