Botanical Name: Agave tequilana
Species: A. tequilana
*Agave angustifolia subsp. tequilana (F.A.C.Weber) Valenz.-Zap. & Nabhan
*Agave palmeris Trel.
*Agave pedrosana Trel.
*Agave pes-mulae Trel.
*Agave pseudotequilana Trel.
*Agave subtilis Trel.
Common Names: Blue agave (agave azul),Mescal, Tequila, Tequila agave
Habitat: Agave tequilana is native to the states of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit and Aguascalientes in Mexico. It grows on the highlands of Mexico. Prefers sandy soils in arid and semi-arid subtropical areas.
Agave tequilana is an evergreen, Perennial succulent plant, growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a medium rate. It forms a large rosette of leaves and, eventually, a flowering stem that can be up to 5 metres tall. The plant is cultivated, especially around Tequila, for the preparation of agave liqueur.
Agave tequilana plants grow into large succulents, with spiky fleshy leaves, that can reach over 2 metres (7 ft) in height. They sprout a stalk (quiote) when about five years old that can grow an additional 5 metres (16 ft); they are topped with yellow flowers. The stalk is cut off from commercial plants so the plant will put more energy into the heart.
The flowers are pollinated by the greater long-nosed bat, (also by insects and hummingbirds) and produce several thousand seeds per plant, many of them are sterile. The plant then dies. The plants are then reproduced by planting the previously removed shoots; this has led to a considerable loss of genetic diversity in cultivated blue agave.
It is rarely kept as a houseplant, but a 50-year-old agave tequilana in Boston grew a 30-foot (9 m) stalk requiring a hole in the greenhouse roof and flowered in the summer of 2006.
Requires a sunny position. Requires a well-drained soil. Succeeds in poor soils. Established plants are very drought tolerant. The plant favors altitudes of more than 1,500 metres (5,000 ft) and grows in rich and sandy soils. 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 continue growing, taking about 10 – 15 years in a warm climate, considerably longer in colder ones, before flowering. The cultivar ‘Azul’, or blue agave, is preferred for tequila production. Specimens have been recorded living up to 50 years in gardens. Blue agaves sprout a stalk (quiote) when about five years old that can grow an additional 5 metres (16ft); they are topped with yellow flowers. The stalk is cut off from commercial plants so the plant will put more energy into the heart.
The sap of the plant is concentrated to make a sugar-rich syrup known as ‘Agave syrup’ or ‘Agave nectar’. The sugar-rich sap is extracted from the roasted bases of the defoliated flowering stems of the plants shortly before flowering, and is then fermented and distilled into mescal and tequila.
Medicinal Uses: Not known to us.
A fibre is obtained from the leaves. Known as ‘Jarsia’, the fibres are soft enough to be used for yarn production. The squeezed shoot axes are used to stabilize loam-bricks. Recently, blue agave has also been suggested as a potential source of ethanol (biofuel).
Known Hazards: Every leaf ends in very sharp point.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only.