There are about 200 species of Agave, endemic to the dessert areas of the Americas, particularly Mexico and the Caribbean. They are characterized by succulent or semi-succulent leaves that form rosettes from a few inches to several feet across. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
Many of them form colonies of pups around them that can bee separated and grown on individually.
The leaf margins are typically lined with large, sharp spines (teeth). Each leaf is usually tipped with a hard, sharp spine. In some cases, the leaves are so tightly compacted in the growing tip that the teeth leave imprints on the surfaces of adjacent leaves after they unfurl.
Agaves flower on tall, branched or unbranched stalks that grow from the center of the leaf rosette. An Agave can live to be 30 years old. When the plant matures, it accumulates sugar and starch. This fuels the development of the flower stalk, which is usually massive compared to the plant itself. They are monocarpic, meaning that after flowering, the parent plant dies.
As a point of interest, Tequila is made from sap taken from the flower stalk of the Blue Agave. Most people think it comes from the fleshy leaves.
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Name Derivation: Noble, handsome
Common Name: Agave, Century Plant
Agave is in the family Asparagaceae.