Fat plants

Agave americana

Agave americana

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Agave americana

The Agave americana belongs to the large family of succulents. It is native to the hot and desert areas of the American continent, it is perennial, with a short stem and a rosette of large and fleshy leaves, often with a woody thorn at the apex. The American Agave is cultivated and naturalized from as far back as 1561, it is native to Mexico and it is from here - in particular from the agave tequilana - that the famous Tequila is obtained, besides the "mezcal", a known hallucinogenic liquid. It is a very large plant, with a diameter varying between 1.5 and 3 meters. It has large ascending green-gray leaves, which are also thorny like the majority of the other types of agaves, along the edge and at the end, curved downwards. The apical spine is woody and about 1 cm long. The American agave is grown outdoors, especially in the mild and Mediterranean areas, in Italy this happens particularly in the south. In the North the agaves must be repaired in the greenhouse during the hardest winter months, at a temperature not lower than 5 degrees.


The agaves are very resistant to drought, while they fear the stagnation of water. They multiply thanks to the numerous suckers that form around the rosette of leaves or through the buds that grow on the floriferous branch. The flowering generally takes place in summer, when the plant reaches maturity, usually after several years and usually the agave does not never flowers if grown in pots. It emits long flowering stems that reach up to 10 meters in height.
Almost all agaves die after flowering but reproduce through the stolons or buds found in the flower.
The genus of the Agave includes about 300 species and being so many, it has never been possible to census them and classify them individually. It should also be noted that some do not have ornamental characteristics and qualities and many of them include dozens of subspecies. Among the varieties that instead possess typically decorative details and which are more suited to embellishing a garden, there is precisely the American agave also known for the names of its subspecies: striata, marginata and medio picta. In general, from the aesthetic point of view, they have leaves in the center with white and yellow streaks, respectively; green and yellow on the edges and with a central gray-green silver line.

Agave ferox

This plant is native to Mexico, exactly from the Yucatan region, and is characterized by the lack of stem, the presence of a rosette of dark green leaves tending upwards and with the ascending tip. On the leaves, and with exactness along the margin, there is a series of brown spines while at the apex there is a conspicuous dark conical spine. The Ferox reaches a diameter of 2 meters while the long branch that produces flowers can reach heights between 6 and 10 meters. Like all agaves, it prefers dry and temperate climates and in Italy it can be easily seen in the southern coastal regions.

Agave attenuata

Also this species belonging to the great genus of the agaves, was born originally in Mexico or in any case in the southern American areas although the experts believe that it could have originated from the Indies. The attenuated agave is large and requires, for its cultivation, a large space in the garden. It can reach 1.5 meters in diameter and is characterized by a short and airy stem, on top of which there is a tuft of green-gray leaves, absolutely without any thorn. Its floriferous branch does not go beyond the meter and a half in length and the inflorescence tends downwards producing large quantities of yellow flowers.

Agave parviflora

Originally from South America and Mexico above all, this species is a small plant that reaches a maximum of 30 cm in diameter. Equipped with green leaves, characterized by streaks on the white with the edge rich in white bristles, accompanied by a line of spines. The apical spine is dark and pointed whereas the height of the floriferous branch varies from 50 cm to one and a half meters. The flowers that produce Agave parviflora are bright red.
Like the species of its large family, it loves mild temperatures so it can easily be grown outdoors in warm areas.

Agave echinoides

It is a smaller plant than many other types of agaves. Also this like the parviflora does not exceed 25-30 cm in diameter and has a short stem from which, in a radial pattern, originate many rigid leaves with rounded edges. On top of each leaf there is a single terminal thorn, brown and very pungent and sharp. It is a plant that hardly sucks so its reproduction is not at all simple.