Botanical Name: Agave parryi
Common Names: Century Plant, Parry’s agave, Mescal
Habitat: Agave parryi is native to Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. It grows on semi-arid land, 1300 – 2400 metres. Gravelly to rocky places in grasslands, desert scrub, chaparral, pinyon-juniper, and oak woodlands, 1200 – 2800 metres Ariz., N.Mex.; nw Mexico.
Agave parryi is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a slow rate.
. It is in leaf all year. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Moths, bats.
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 2½ 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.
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.
The sap is antiseptic, diuretic and laxative.
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 fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making rope, coarse fabrics etc. A paper can also be made from the fibre 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..
Known Hazards : The plants have a very sharp and tough spine at the tip of each leaf. They need to be carefully sited in the garden.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.