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Origin and Habitat: Sierra Madre Oriental Mexico (Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas); U.S.A. (Texas)
Habitat: It grows in semi arid open tropical deciduous forest and canyons along with other xeprophytic and succulent plants (e.g. Agave americana, Agave lophantha, Agave bracteosa, Agave falcata, Dioon edule). In some region it cohabits with Agave scabra and intermediates between the two species are displayed in both leaf and flower.
Type locality: 20-22 miles east of Galeana along road to Linares, Nuevo Leon,
Agave americana subs. protamericana Gentry
Agaves Cont. N. Amer. 287 (1982).
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Agave americana L.
Sp. Pl. 1: 323. 1753 [1 May 1753]
- Agave americana L.
- Agave altissima Zumagl.
- Agave americana f. aureo-marginata hort.
- Agave americana var. marginata alba Trel.
- Agave americana var. marginata pallida Trel.
- Agave americana var. marginata Trel. in L.H.Bailey
- Agave americana var. medio-picta Trel. in L.H.Bailey
- Agave americana nairobensis Herbin & Robins
- Agave americana var. picta (Salm-Dyck) A.Terracc.
- Agave americana f. picta (Salm-Dyck) Voss in Vilm.
- Agave ingens var. picta (Salm-Dyck) A.Berger
- Agave longifolia var. picta (Salm-Dyck) Regel
- Agave mexicana var. picta (Salm-Dyck) Cels
- Agave milleri var. picta (Salm-Dyck) Van Houtte
- Agave picta Salm-Dyck
- Agave americana var. striata Trel. in L.H.Bailey
- Agave americana var. theometel (Zuccagni) A.Terracc. in A.Terracc.
- Agave theometel Zuccagni
- Agave americana var. variegata Hook.
- Agave americana f. virginica (Mill.) Voss in Vilm.
- Agave virginica Mill.
- Agave celsiana hort. ex A.Berger
- Agave communis Gaterau
- Agave complicata Trel. ex Ochot.
- Agave cordillerensis Lodé & Pino
- Agave felina Trel.
- Agave fuerstenbergii Jacobi
- Agave gracilispina (Rol.-Goss.) Engelm. ex Trel.
- Agave salmiana var. gracilispina Rol.-Goss.
- Agave ingens A.Berger
- Agave melliflua Trel. in L.H.Bailey
- Agave milleri Haw.
- Agave ornata Jacobi
- Agave ramosa Moench
- Agave rasconensis Trel.
- Agave spectabilis Salisb.
- Agave subzonata Trel.
- Agave tingens A.Berger
- Agave variegata hort. ex Steud.
- Agave zonata Trel.
Agave americana var. expansa (Jacobi) Gentry
Agave Fam. Sonora 80. 1972 USDA Agric. Handb. no. 399
- Agave americana var. expansa (Jacobi) Gentry
- Agave abrupta Trel.
- Agave expansa Jacobi
Agave americana f. medio-picta alba
Accepted name in llifle Database:
Agave americana var. oaxacensis Gentry
Agaves Cont. N. Amer. 285 (1982).
ENGLISH: Century Plant
PORTUGUESE (Português): Piteira, Agave, Pita, Pita-azul, Piteira-azul, Agave-azul
Description: It is a medium-large sukering species that does not attain the huge proportions of the Agave americana commonly found in the Mediterranean climes. The Subsp. protamericana differs from the cultivated Agave americana in its greater variability in form, spination and colour of the leaves which generally are shorter, compact and wider. The inﬂorescence generally has fewer branches. It has proven to be very desirable in the smaller landscapes and is more moisture and cold hardy than its cousins. The most striking being the blue forms.
Stem: Stemless or short-stemmed.
Leaves: Broadly lanceolate. 80-135 long, 17-22 cm wide, quite rigid, narrow above the thick fleshy base, convex below, becoming plane to channelled above, light glaucous-grey to pale-green, sometimes cross-zoned, with often pronounced bud imprints on the leaf surface, the margin crenate. Teeth 5-10 mm long from low broad bases and almost regular in size and spacing, straight to curved, dark brown to grey. Apical spine 3-6 cm long subulate, dark brown to greyish brown, shortly decurrent, openly grooved above.
Inflorescences: 6-8 m tall panicles; stalk with small bracts and with 15-20 wide-branching laterals in upper half (or third) of stalk.
Flowers: About 75-90 mm long, on slender pedicels; ovary 38-45 mm long, cylindric or fusiform; tube deeply funnelform, l5-20 mm long, thick-walled, deeply grooved, tepals unequal, the outer 20-30 mm long; ﬁlaments 60-70 mm long; anthers 25-35 mm long, eccentric; capsules small, 3,5-4 x 1.6-2 cm, oblong, thin-walled, light brown, stipitate, short-beaked.
Blooming season: Late spring to summer, often flowering after 8-20 (or more) years.
Seeds: 7-7.5 x 5-6 mm, lacrimiform, black.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Agave americana group
- Agave americana L.: Solitary or slowly clumping grey-blue rosette up to 4 m wide up to 150-200 cm tall. The leaves are often refexed above the middle. Cultivated worldwide with several different variety.
- Agave americana f. aureo-marginata hort.: Variegated cultivar with yellow stripes along the margins of each leaf.
- Agave americana var. expansa (Jacobi) Gentry: has a short trunk up to 60 cm tall with grey-glaucous cross zoned leaves.
- Agave americana f. medio-picta alba: Variegated cultivar with a broad white band down the centre of each leaf.
- Agave americana var. oaxacensis Gentry: Has very large glaucous-white leaves with nearly straight margins. Leaves never reflexed. Cultivated form mainly in Oaxaca Valley.
- Agave americana var. picta (Salm-Dyck) A.Terracc.: The name "picta" has been variously used to indicate a number of varieties, segregated largely on the basis of the yellow or whitish striations. This variegated forms are inconstant in their colour patterns.
- Agave americana subs. protamericana Gentry: Regarded as the wild progenitor of the cultivated Agave americana differs in its greater variability in form, spination and colour of the leaves which generally are shorter, compact and wider.
- Agave americana subs. protamericana cv. Blue Steel: has beautiful steel-blue, tight, upright, leaves with wider blade than some clones.
- Agave americana var. striata Trel. in L.H.Bailey: Variegated cultivar with multiple yellow to white stripes along the leaves.
- Agave cv. Cornelius: small monstrous and strongly variegated form with gorgeous wide creamy-yellow margins on blue-green undulating spidery foliage.
Notes: (from: Popular Science - Nov 1909 - Page 443) The great ﬂowering shoots represents the culminating vital activity of the whole life of the plant. Slowly through the years the materials have been gathering for this particular task, and ﬁnally in a few short weeks of summer the supreme work is consummated, and the great candelabrum of branches stands forth with its hundreds of seed capsules, while the erstwhile luxuriant leaves are sere and withered, their substance, as indeed the whole life of the plant, sacriﬁced to this one supreme effort toward the propagation of its kind. When in bloom the inﬂorescence is surrounded by myriads of flies and other insects attracted by the abundant nectar which the flowers secrete. When the seeds are ripe the pod splits down from above and spreads apart slightly, so that a few seeds are easily shaken out by a gust of wind. The inﬂorescence, though dead, may stand for a year or more, and the seeds that it bears may be scattered over a wide area.
Agave americana subs. protamericana Photo by: Matteo Faggion
The gallery now contains thousands of pictures, however it is possible to do even more. We are, of course, seeking photos of species not yet shown in the gallery but not only that, we are also looking for better pictures than those already present. Read More...
Cultivation and Propagation: They are usually cultivated outdoors in rock gardens, in cactus and succulent gardens, in Mediterranean-style landscapes, in borders, or as a specimen. Need full sun and a very well-drained, slightly acidic, sandy or gravely soil. As an ornamental it is also grown in large containers where it stays much smaller than its outdoor brethren. It is hardy to about -9° to - 12° C, particularly when dry but it is best to avoid severe freezing temperatures. Keep it in a cool, frost-free area in winter and put it out on the balcony or patio in summer. It grows fairly fast in summer if provided with copious water but allows to dry thoroughly before watering again. During the winter months, one should only water enough to keep the leaves from shrivelling. They do well in full sun or a lightly shaded area.
Warning: It can get very large, and it is armed with needle-sharp spines.
Propagation: By seeds or (usually) suckers which often are found growing around the base of the plant, Remove the basal suckers (if available) in spring or summer and let the cuttings dry for a few days before inserting in compost.
Landscape: These striking plants are wonderful when used for accent or simply to provide some all year round foliage and often used in a pot as a patio plant, can be moved around to change the scenery or position to give more shelter.
Medicine: The sap of century plant is used as a diuretic and a laxative. The juice of the leaves is applied to bruises and taken internally for indigestion, flatulence, constipation, jaundice and dysentery.
Food: The flower stalk and heart of century plant are sweet and can be roasted and eaten. The seeds are ground into flour to make bread and to use as a thickener for soups.
Alcoholic drinks: If the flower stem is cut without flowering, a sweet liquid called agua miel ("honey water") gathers in the heart of the plant. This may be fermented to produce a beer-like drink called pulque, which may then be distilled to produce mezcal.
Fibres: The leaves also yield fibres, known as pita, which are suitable for making rope, matting, coarse cloth and are used for embroidery of leather in a technique known as piteado.
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