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Origin and Habitat: Central and southern Mexico. It is also reportedly naturalized in South Africa and in the Canary Islands.
Agave salmiana Otto ex Salm-Dyck
Bonplandia (Hannover) 7: 88 1859
- Agave salmiana Otto ex Salm-Dyck
- Agave atrovirens var. salmiana (Otto ex Salm-Dyck) Maire & Weiller
- Agave atrovirens var. sigmatophylla A.Berger
- Agave caratas Besaucèle
- Agave chinensis F.P.Sm.
- Agave compluviata Trel. in L.H.Bailey
- Agave dyckii H.Jacobsen
- Agave ferdinand-cortezii K.Koch
- Agave jacobiana Salm-Dyck
- Agave lehmannii Jacobi
- Agave maximilianea P.Blázquez & I.Blázquez
- Agave montezumae K.Koch
- Agave quiotifera Trel. ex Ochot.
- Agave ragusae A.Terracc.
- Agave salmiana var. cochlearis (Jacobi) A.Terracc. in A.Terracc.
- Agave cochlearis Jacobi
- Agave salmiana var. glauca D.Dietr. ex Becker
- Agave whitackeri H.Jacobsen
Agave salmiana subs. crassispina (Trel.) Gentry
Agaves Cont. N. Amer. 609 (1982).
- Agave salmiana subs. crassispina (Trel.) Gentry
- Agave crassispina Trel. in L.H.Bailey
- Agave crassispina var. cultra Trel.
Agave salmiana var. ferox (K.Koch) Gentry
Agaves Cont. N. Amer. 611 (1982)
- Agave salmiana var. ferox (K.Koch) Gentry
- Agave ferox K.Koch
- Agave bonnetiana Peacock ex Baker
- Agave coarctata Jacobi
- Agave mitriformis Jacobi
- Agave salmiana subs. tehuacanensis (Karw. ex Salm-Dyck) García-Mendoza.
- Agave tehuacanensis Karw. ex Salm-Dyck
ENGLISH: Pulque Agave, Giant Agave
ARABIC ( لعربية ): أجاف فيروكس
CATALAN (Català): Maguey verde, Maguey pulquero
LITHUANIAN (Lietuvių): Gobtuvinė agava
SPANISH (Español): Maguey pulquero, Maguey manso, Pulque, Maguey, Maguey de montaña
SWEDISH (Svenska): Ölagave
Description: Agave salmiana is a medium to large sized species reaching to 1.5-2 metres tall by twice as wide. It is a really distinct looking plant recognizable by its broad fleshy, and well-armed, leaves, graceful, dark grey-green, that bend down at the tip. This plant has also been in cultivation in Europe since the 19th century. When the plant matures and blooms the tall candelabra inflorescence rises to over 6 metres bearing yellow flowers that attract birds and bees. Agave salmiana consists of both wild and cultivated populations and the forms of each are numerous.
Habit: Perennial, very large evergreen rosetting succulent forming ample suckers which can lead to a large colony if suckers are not removed. It is monocarpic.
Stem: Short and thick.
Rosette: Large, loosely leaved,
Leaves: 1-2 m x 20-35 cm, broadly linear lanceolate to oblanceolate, narrowed towards the base, tapered above, acuminate, firm and smooth, rigid, grey-green to glaucous grayish, deeply convex below at base, concave to guttered upward, the apex sigmoidally curved. Margins sinuous. Marginal spines brown to grayish brown, 1-2 cm (including the fleshy mammillate cushions on which they stand), confluent at the base of the leaf, the median spines 2-3 cm distant. the upper 7-8 cm distant. Terminal spine 5-10 cm, black-brown grooved above for over half its length. long-decurrent sometimes to mid-blade as a heavy corneous margin. .
Inflorescence: Stout, paniculate. Peduncle closely imbricate with large fleshy bracts, (6-)7-8(-9) m tall. Panicle broad, with 15-20 large loose umbels in upper half of shaft.
Flowers: Coarsely fleshy 8-11 cm long, frequently flushed reddish in the bud but opening yellow or greenish yellow. Ovary green50-60 mm long, thick, cylindric. Tube large funnelform, 21-24 mm deep, 20 mm broad, thick-walled .Tepals dimorphic, narrow, involute, the inner 2-3 mm shorter with high fleshy keel bordered by thin, hyaline, inrolling margins, the outer 21-25 x 6 mm and bulging at base. Filaments 55-70 mm long, inserted above mid-tube. Anthers 30-35 mm long, yellow. Pistil over-reaching stamens.
Blooming season: Spring (in habitat late March to June appears to be the principal flowering season.) Under right condition it would bloom in 10 years.
Fruits (capsules): 5.5-7 x 2-2.2 cm, stipitate, beaked, woody, brown.
Seeds: 8-9 x 6-7 mm, black, tear-shaped.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Agave salmiana group
- Agave salmiana Otto ex Salm-Dyck: has green leaves with long-acuminate sigmoid apices and large peduncular bracts subtending broad, pyramidal, large panicles. Distribution: Central and southern Mexico.
- Agave salmiana subs. crassispina (Trel.) Gentry
- Agave salmiana var. ferox (K.Koch) Gentry: produce a an urn-shaped silhouette made up of very broad, and well-armed, leaves up to 35 cm (or more) wide. Central and southern Mexico.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
2) Steven J. Phillips, Patricia Wentworth Comus, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson, Ariz.) “A natural history of the Sonoran Desert” University of California Press, 2000
3) Gardeners' Chronicle 29: t. 51 1886
4) The Garden 29: 495 1886
5) Revue Horticole. t. 40-1 (1872)
6) Parey's Blumengartnerei 1: 357 1958
7) García-Mendoza, A. J. “México, país de magueyes.” Suplemento "La Jornada del campo" La Jornada, sábado 18 de febrero del 2012, no. 53, p.
8) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Monocotyledons” Springer, 2001
9) Hermann Jacobsen ”A Handbook of Succulent Plants: Abromeitiella to Euphorbia” Blandford Press, 1960
10) Howard Scott Gentry “Agaves of Continental North America” University of Arizona Press, 01/Feb/2004
11) Bailey, L.H. & E.Z. Bailey. “Hortus Third” MacMillan, New York 1976
12) CONABIO. “Catálogo taxonómico de especies de México. 1.” In Capital Nat. México. CONABIO, Mexico City. 2009
13) Enrique Martínez Limón “Tequila tradición y destino” Editorial Revimundo 1999
Cultivation and Propagation: Agave salmiana 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 containers where it stays much smaller than its outdoor brethren. Specimens even survive in pots or in the ground in the wet winters of the south coast of England. At the other extreme it may be seen planted out in southern Arizona and Texas.
Growth rate: The Agave salmiana 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.
Soil: It needs a very well-drained, soil.
Repotting: Repot every two years. Use pot with good drainage.
Exposure: It does well in full sun or a lightly shaded area.
Warning: It can get very large, and it is armed with needle-sharp spines. The sap is quite acidic and can be quite painful if it comes in contact with the skin. It can form small blisters.
Hardiness: Agave salmiana is theoretically hardy to -9° C, particularly when dry and 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.
Heat Tolerance: Excellent.
Uses: 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
Alcoholic drinks: Agave salmiana is considered to be the great wine making agave "maguey de pulque" and has long been cultivated in south central Mexico for this purpose.
Warning: Use extreme care when working around or trimming any Agave. Not only are the spines wicked and cause a painful swelling if one is poked, but the sap of many species is caustic.
Propagation: Relatively easy to propagate by seeds or by suckers. Sow at any time of year in a well-aerated compost at a temperatures of 22-24°C . Stand the pots in water, moisten thoroughly and drain. Scatter and press lightly the seed onto the top of the compost. But do not cover the small seeds with compost. Secure a polythene bag around the pot or cover the container with glass or and place in a warm shaded place. If possible, germinate in a propagator. Some seedlings may appear within a week or 10 days others will take longer. At lower temperatures, germination usually takes considerably longer. Once germination has taken place, remove gradually the glass or plastic and move into a good light but not in direct sun. If the young plants are exposed to too much sun, or the compost dries out, they may stop growing and often turn red; once they stop, it is often difficult to persuade them to start growing again. Never let the pots dry out-but don't saturate them either. A sodden compost is as harmful as a dry one.
Remove the basal suckers in spring or summer and let the cuttings dry for a few days before inserting in compost.
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