Agave deserti Palm Canyon in south Palm Springs (California )

The agave ( Agave ) are a genus of flowering plants in the subfamily of the agave ( Agavoideae ) within the family of asparagus plants ( Asparagaceae ). The botanical name Agave is derived from the Greek word for agavos noble, glorious and exalted from. Agave, Agave often written, is the name of a daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia in Greek mythology, which is sometimes referred to as eponymous.

Agaves are sometimes called the century plant (of English. "Century Plant" ), since they only bloom once and several decades passed until formation of an inflorescence.

  • 3.1 Types
  • 3.2 hybrids
  • 3.3 Synonyms
  • 5.1 fiber Supplier
  • 5.2 Food and beverage
  • 6.1 Literature
  • 6.2 Notes and references
  • 6.3 Original Descriptions from 2001


Vegetative characteristics

Agave plants are xerophytic perennial or hapaxanthe and most succulent leaves rosette plants. They grow terrestrial or rarely epiphytic. The small to very large rosettes are stemless or its trunk is very short. The rare extended trunk is thick, single or branched and sometimes rhizomatös. From the rhizome is sometimes made daughter plants. The long-lived, more or less thick and fibrous leaves are mostly succulent and Xeromorph ( something soft and annuals in the subgenus Manfreda ). The leaf blade is linear to lanceolate to ovate. At the blade tip is a more or less strongly developed spine ( at the sub-genus Manfreda a soft Spitzchen ). The ganzrandigen leaf margins are tiny to heavily serrated or thread- supporting.

The strong and fibrous, occasionally spindlig thickened roots are spread out flat.

Inflorescences and flowers

The inflorescence can be up to 12 meters high. The partial inflorescences are zymös either have little short -stalked, and usually a few ( rarely paired ) flowers ( subgenus Littaea ) or long -stalked, often multiple composite, with numerous more or less densely placed flowers ( subgenus Agave ) or nearly sessile, paired to individual flowers ( subgenus Manfreda ). The inflorescence sometimes bears bulbils. The tube amps to bell-shaped perianth is usually yellow or greenish to brownish, more rarely reddish. The tepals are usually fused at the base and form a Perigonröhre whose length is very varied and the ends in different lengths Perigonzipfeln.

The stamens protrude from the Perigonröhre and have elongated, flexible dust bag. The thread- thin filaments are attached either in the tube to the tube opening or of the Tepalenbasis. The under constant, dreifächrige ovary is thick walled. The elongated, thread- thin stylus is Roehrig and not yet fully developed in flower opening. The warzendrüsige scar is three-lobed.

Fruit and seeds

The fruits are insulated draft tube, the tip often narrow elongated lokulizide capsules containing the flattened black seeds.


The base chromosome number is x = 30


The distribution of agaves extends from the southern United States via Mexico throughout Central America ( including the Caribbean ) to Panama and extends into northern South America ( Colombia and Venezuela) into it. The greatest species diversity is found in the Mexican states of Hidalgo, Puebla and Oaxaca. Agaves are cultivated in tropical, subtropical and frost-free climates worldwide and are naturalized in the respective countries often.


The first description of the agave was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. Your type species is Agave americana.

The genus Agave sensu lato is divided into the following three sub- genres:

  • Agave
  • Littaea ( Tagl. ) Baker
  • Manfreda ( Salisb. ) Baker

In the subgenus Agave inflorescence consists of long-stemmed, often multi-compositional part inflorescences with numerous, more or less densely arranged flowers. In the subgenus Littaea the inflorescence is composed of more or less short -stalked part inflorescences usually with few ( rarely paired ) flowers together. The subgenus includes the formerly independent genera Manfreda Manfreda, Polianthes and Prochnyanthes.

The subgenera are divided into informal groups of species without taxonomic rank, which are at least partly considered as artificial:

  • Subgenus Littaea "Weak armored group " Group Striatae Baker
  • Group Serrulatae Baker (incl. Amolae Gentry )
  • Group Choritepalae Gentry
  • Group Filiferae Gentry
  • Group Parviflorae Gentry
  • Group Polycephalae Gentry
  • Group Marginatae Gentry
  • Group Urceolatae Gentry
  • " Large growing group " Group Agave (including Americanae Baker)
  • Group Salmianae A.Berger
  • Group Crenatae A.Berger
  • Group Campaniflorae Trel.
  • Group Umbelliflorae Trel.
  • Group Viviparae Trel. (including Sisalanae Trel. , Rigidae Trel. )
  • Group Applanattae Trel.
  • Group Deserticolae Trel.
  • Group Parryanae Gentry
  • Group Marmoratae A.Berger
  • Group Costaricicenses Trel.
  • Group Antillanae Trel.
  • Group Antillares Trel.
  • Group Bahamanae Trel.
  • Group Caribaeae Trel.
  • Group Inaguenses Trel.
  • Group Vicinae Thiede
  • Group Manfreda
  • Group Polianthes
  • Group Prochnyanthes


The genus Agave includes the following types:

Subgenus Littaea

  • Agave albomarginata
  • Agave albopilosa [N 1]
  • Agave angustiarum
  • Agave arcedianoensis [ N 2]
  • Agave attenuata Agave attenuata subsp. attenuata
  • Agave attenuata subsp. dentata [N 3]
  • Agave filifera subsp. filifera
  • Agave filifera subsp. microceps
  • Agave filifera subsp. multifilifera
  • Agave filifera subsp. schidigera
  • Agave horrida subsp. horrida
  • Agave horrida subsp. perotensis
  • Agave mitis var mitis
  • Agave mitis var albidior
  • Agave nussaviorum subsp. deltoideae
  • Agave nussaviorum subsp. nussaviorum
  • Agave ocahui var ocahui
  • Agave ocahui var longifolia
  • Agave parviflora subsp. parviflora
  • Agave parviflora subsp. densiflora [N 10]
  • Agave parviflora subsp. flexiflora
  • Agave toumeyana subsp. toumeyana
  • Agave toumeyana subsp. bella

Subgenus Agave

  • Agave acicularis
  • Agave acklinicola
  • Agave aktites
  • Agave albescens
  • Agave americana Agave americana subsp. americana Agave americana subsp. americana var expansa
  • Agave americana subsp. americana var oaxacensis
  • Agave antillarum antillarum var
  • Agave antillarum var grammontensis
  • Agave asperrima subsp. asperrima
  • Agave asperrima subsp. maderensis
  • Agave asperrima subsp. potosiensis
  • Agave asperrima subsp. zarcensis
  • Agave atrovirens var atrovirens
  • Agave atrovirens var mirabilis
  • Agave brittoniana subsp. brittoniana
  • Agave brittoniana subsp. brachypus
  • Agave brittoniana subsp. sancti - spirituensis
  • Agave cantala var cantala
  • Agave cantala var acuispina
  • Agave cerulata subsp. cerulata
  • Agave cerulata subsp. dentiens
  • Agave cerulata subsp. nelsonii
  • Agave cerulata subsp. subcerulata
  • Agave deserti subsp. deserti
  • Agave deserti subsp. pringlei
  • Agave deserti subsp. simplex
  • Agave inaequidens subsp. inaequidens
  • Agave inaequidens subsp. barrancensis
  • Agave mapisaga var mapisaga
  • Agave mapisaga var lisa
  • Agave papyrocarpa subsp. macrocarpa
  • Agave papyrocarpa subsp. papyrocarpa
  • Agave parryi var parryi
  • Agave parryi var couesii
  • Agave parryi var huachucensis
  • Agave parryi var truncata
  • Agave salmiana subsp. salmiana
  • Agave salmiana subsp. crassispina
  • Agave salmiana subsp. tehuacanensis [N 18]
  • Agave salmiana var ferox
  • Agave shawii subsp. shawii
  • Agave shawii subsp. goldmaniana
  • Agave shrevei subsp. shrevei
  • Agave shrevei subsp. magna
  • Agave shrevei subsp. matapensis
  • Agave sobria subsp. sobria
  • Agave sobria subsp. frailensis
  • Agave sobria subsp. Roseana
  • Agave vivipara var vivipara
  • Agave vivipara var deweyana
  • Agave vivipara var letonae
  • Agave vivipara var nivea
  • Agave vivipara var sargentii

Subgenus Manfreda

  • Agave gonzaloi [ N 23 ]
  • Agave palustris
  • Manfreda Group Agave brunnea
  • Agave bulbulifera [ N 24 ] [ N 25 ]
  • Agave chamelensis
  • Agave debilis
  • Agave fusca
  • Agave galvaniae [ N 26 ] [ N 27 ]
  • Agave gracillima
  • Agave guerrerensis
  • Guttata Agave
  • Agave hauniensis
  • Agave involuta
  • Agave jaliscana
  • Agave justosierrana [ N 28 ] [ N 25 ]
  • Agave longibracteata
  • Agave longiflora
  • Agave maculosa
  • Agave nanchititlensis
  • Agave paniculata [ N 29 ] [ N 25 ]
  • Agave parva [N 30] [ N 25 ]
  • Agave petskinil [ N 29 ] [ N 25 ]
  • Agave planifolia
  • Agave potosina
  • Agave pratensis
  • Agave pubescens
  • Agave revoluta
  • Agave scabra
  • Agave sileri
  • Agave singuliflora
  • Agave stictata
  • Agave umbrophila [ N 28 ] [ N 25 ]
  • Agave variegata
  • Agave verhoekiae [ N 28 ] [ N 25 ]
  • Agave virginica Agave virginica subsp. virginica
  • Agave virginica subsp. lata
  • Polianthes Group Agave apedicellata
  • Agave bicolor
  • Agave confertiflora
  • Agave dolichantha
  • Agave duplicatà Agave duplicatà subsp. duplicatà
  • Agave duplicatà subsp. clivicola
  • Agave duplicatà subsp. graminifolia
  • Agave duplicatà subsp. pueblensis [ N 31 ] [ N 25 ]
  • Prochnyanthes Group Agave bulliana

It is of no known association

  • Agave caymanensis [N 34 ]


Following hybrids have been described:

  • Agave × ajoensis [ N 35 ] Natural hybrids of Agave deserti var simplex and Agave schottii var schottii
  • Agave arizonica × Possible hybrid of Agave toumeyana subsp. bella and Agave chrysantha
  • Agave × blissii Garden hybrid of Agave and Agave duplicatà polianthes
  • Agave × bundrantii Garden hybrid of Agave and Agave polianthes howardii
  • Agave × cavanillesii [N 36 ] Hybrid of Agave and Agave decipiens fourcroydes
  • Agave × glomeruliflora Hybridogener origin with morphological transitions between Agave and Agave lechuguilla neomexicana and / or agave havardiana
  • Agave gracilipes × Natural hybrid of Agave and Agave lechuguilla neomexicana
  • Agave × güemensis [ N 37 ] Hybrid of Agave and Agave polyacantha walleriana
  • Agave × leopoldii Garden hybrid of Agave filifera and Agave filifera subsp. schidigera
  • Agave × neokewensis [ N 25 ] Hybrid of Agave and Agave duplicatà bulliana
  • Agave × peacockii Natural hybrids of Agave marmorata and Agave kerchovei
  • Agave × rossellonensis [ N 38 ] Hybrid of Agave walleriana var xalapensis and Agave polyacantha


Synonyms for genus Agave are Polianthes L. (1753 ), Pothos Adans. ( 1763), Tuberosa Heist. ex Fabr (1769, nom. illeg. ICBN article 52.1), Bonapartea Willd. (1814 ), Littaea Tagl. (1816 ), La Llave & Lex Bravoa (1824), Coetocapnia Link & Otto (1828), Robynsia Drap. (1841, noun rejiciendum ICBN article 56.1), Ghiesbreghtia Roezl (1861, nom. Inval. ICBN article 52.1), Manfreda Salisb. (1866 ), Allibertia Marion (1882 ), Prochnyanthes S.Watson (1887 ), Leichtlinia H.Ross (1893 ), Delpinoa H.Ross (1897 ), Pseudobravoa Rose ( 1899) and Runyonia Rose ( 1922).

Botanical history

In his description of the plants of the Botanical Garden of Uppsala Linnaeus separated in 1748 previously known as the American aloe plants of the genus Aloe and led from the botanical name Agave, but without describing individual species. In his scientific first description of the genus in Species Plantarum Linnaeus led to four types 1753: Agave americana, Agave vivipara, Agave Agave virginica and foetida (now Furcraea foetida ).

In the 8th edition of Philip Miller's The Gardener 's Dictionary 1768 four species were added: Agave tuberosa (now Furcraea tuberosa ), Agave karatto, Agave vera cruz (today Agave lurida ) and Agave rigida (possibly Agave fourcroydes ). In the following years other species by William Aiton, Adrian Hardy Haworth, Attilio Zuccagni, John Bellenden Ker Gawler -, Antonio José Cavanilles and Johann Friedrich Klotzsch have been described. Christian Julius Wilhelm differences and Wilhelm Friedrich Karwinsky (1780-1855) traveled to Mexico, collected plants there and sent them to Europe where they were cultivated, for example, in Italy and England. Karl Sigismund Kunth led in 1850 to a total of 49 species. Joseph Salm- Dyck Reifferscheidt took in 1834 and 1859 on the basis of his collection in Dusseldorf cultivated plants also a revision of the hitherto known species before and recognized 45 species. From 1864 to 1867, described the Prussian General George Albano of Jacobi ( 1805-1874 ), who was standing with Salm- Dyck in contact, in Hamburg's garden and flower paper based on cultivated in European gardens plants ( mostly seedlings ) 78 new species. Further descriptions were made by him from 1868 to 1870 in the papers of the Silesian Society for patriotic culture. Thus, the number of agave species described grew to about 160. Neither Salm- Dyck Jacobi still used for its descriptions features flowers, although the flowers of the agave were described in 1833 by Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini. By Georg Engelmann and John Gilbert Baker made ​​further revisions of the genus. In his summary of the genus Agave Baker realized in 1888 a total of 138 species.

1915 Alwin Berger published his monograph The agave and made ​​the first attempt to classify the entire genus by taxonomic point of view. His descriptions before he took mainly based on plants grown in the garden located on the Italian Riviera La Mortola. William Trelease, who worked for the Missouri Botanical Garden, was the first botanist who studied the agave intensively in their natural habitats, especially in Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean. Because of these studies were carried out numerous other original descriptions. By 1924, a total of 310 species were known. Howard Scott Gentry undertook extensive field studies in North America and examined the deposited in herbaria material, the results of which he published in 1982. In it, he divided the agave based on flower characteristics in the two subgenera Agave ( Rispige flower) with 8 sections and 54 species and Littaea ( eared flowers) with 12 sections and 82 species.

Phylogenetic work the mid-1990s led in 1999 to collect the species Manfreda, Polianthes and Prochnyanthes as a subgenus in the genus Agave Manfreda.


Fiber supplier

Agaves are among the main suppliers of plant fibers. Professionals acting among others, the sisal agave ( Agave sisalana ), Agave fourcroydes be (as referred henequen ), Agave and Agave vivipara var cantala grown letonae. Are harvested wild Agave lechuguilla ( Ixtle fibers), Agave funkiana ( Jamauve fibers) as well as occasionally Agave victoriae reginae -.

Food and Beverage

Even the natives of Mexico roasted or baked flower buds and agave leaves, which are characterized by their high content of sugar. Is agave nectar from the Cabeza or Piña, the remaining after knocking off the leaves tribe won.

Pulque, the national drink of Mexico, is produced by fermentation of the designated as Aguamiel Agavensaftes. Great economic importance for Mexico has tequila, which is made ​​exclusively from the Blue Agave ( Agave tequilana ). A special form is the mezcal, for making it less stringent rules apply as for the tequila.