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Mescal
Agavaceae
Agave parryi


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb



Agavaceae Family

Agave Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Century Plant, Parry’s Agave


Location

Native to South-western N. America from Arizona to New Mexico

Physical Description
The leaves are grey green and have a spine at the tip. One of the distinguishing features is that the point on the tip, which is typically dark tan, brown, or black, is darker than the leaf. Indentations of previous leaves show on the back of each leaf. The Huachuca variety grows in a rosette pattern as large as 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 feet in diameter.
Because of its compact size, plus its low water use and low maintenance, Huachuca agave is considered a good landscaping plant for desert residential landscaping. It requires full sun. It is hardy to roughly zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Parry's Agave is evergreen. Aged agave produce a twelve-foot stalk with bright yellow blooms. They then die after blooming, as all leaf and root resources are put into the stalk, flowers, and seeds. It can be propagated by either offset or seed.




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Agavaceae
Asparagales
Asparagales
Monocots
Monocots
One First-Leaves (Monocots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Plants bloom only once in their life, the blooming spike is so large and grows so fast that it saps all the resources of the plant, which then dies, leaving a tall wooden seed stalk. The plant is called the "century plant" because of this "once a century" bloom (actually the plant lives an average of 25 years). It was also an important plant to indigenous people, being used for medicines, fiber, needles, beverages, soap, lances. and food. Today the liquors mescal, pulque, and tequila are made from the juice of the Mexican species.

Medicinal Uses: The sap is antiseptic, diuretic and laxative

Food Uses: The heart of the plant is very rich in saccharine matter and can be eaten when baked. Sweet and nutritious, but rather fibrous. It is partly below ground. Seed - ground into a flour and used as a thickener in soups or used with cereal flours when making bread. Young flower stalk - raw or cooked. It was generally roasted. Tender young leaves - roasted. Sap from the cut flowering stems is used as a syrup. Nectar from the flowering stems is made into a sweet syrup. The sap can also be tapped by boring a hole into the middle of the plant at the base of the flowering stem. It can be fermented into 'Mescal', a very potent alcoholic drink

Other Uses: The leaves contain saponins and an extract of them can be used as a soap. It is best obtained by chopping up the leaves and then simmering them in water - do not boil for too long or this will start to break down the saponins. A very strong fiber obtained from the leaves is used for making rope, coarse fabrics etc. A paper can also be made from the fiber in the leaves. The thorns on the leaves are used as pins and needles. The dried flowering stems are used as a waterproof thatch and as a razor strop

Cultivation: Requires a very well-drained soil and a sunny position. This species is probably the hardiest member of the genus, it survives outdoors grown against a warm wall at Kew. In the wild, plants often experience snow during the winter with temperatures as low as -18°c for short periods. A monocarpic species, the plant lives for a number of years without flowering but dies once it does flower. However, it normally produces plenty of suckers during its life and these take about 10 - 15 years in a warm climate, considerably longer in colder ones, before flowering

Propagation: Seed - surface sow in a light position, April in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse until they are at least 20cm tall. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold for at least their first few winters. Offsets can be potted up at any time they are available. Keep in a warm greenhouse until they are well established[





Mescal




Mescal


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