Agave salmiana var. gracilispina
Central America. Agave americana is an ornamental plant, probably native to Mexico, but today naturalized in many territories worldwide. It is one of the most cultivated species for floriculture, especially the striated varieties.
Flowering succulent with a basal rosette (up to 4m wide) of thick green-gray leaves, which have got terminals and marginals sharp spines. Depending on the climate, it can take decades to bloom (in fact, American Agave is also called “century plant). Anyway, it is worth the wait: the inflorescence presents a branched steam high from 3m to 9m, with large, yellow blossoms. The plant produces offsets and adventitious shoots from the base, and, after the flowering, dies.
Like other Agave species, Agave americana can claim endurance and adaptability. However, to not get rotten, it needs a really well-drained soil. Full sun is vital: if it is not planted outdoor in a garden, but in a pot (better if it is a earthenware pot), put it out during summer. During winter protect it from frosting, by moving it in a cool area with dry ground (but it can survive short periods below 0°C). Ideal temperature is from 20°C to 30°C. It is recommended to give them a little water regularly, when the soil is completely dry.
You can use basal suckers as plant propagation material: remove them during spring or summer, and when the cuttings are well dried, after few days, you can insert the “pups” in compost.
Agave americana and its different parts have a wide range of uses, from culinary, to medicine, to weaving. Flour derived from seeds is used to make bread. Cutting the flower stem before the flowering, in the heart of the plant gather a sweet liquid called “agua miel”. When it ferments, it produces an alcoholic drink called “pulque”. Mezcal is the high alcohol product of distillation of fermented agave, and for the popular tequila, it is used Agave tequilana (or Blue agave). Fibres obtained from the leaves (“pita”) are used to make mattings, ropes and, in “piteado”, for embroidery of leather.