Agave americana, Agave ramosa,
Century plant, American agave, American-aloe,
Hebrew: אגבה אמריקנית, Arabic: أغاف أمريكي

Scientific name:  Agave americana L.
Synonym name:  Agave ramosa Moench
Common name:  Century plant, American agave, American-aloe
Hebrew name:   אגבה אמריקנית
Arabic name:  أغاف أمريكي
Family:   Agavaceae

Israel wildflowers and native plants, Botany

Life form:  Perennial, rhizomatous
Leaves:  Basal rosette, succulent, gray-blue up to 2m. long and 25 cm wide; sharp spines on the margins and tips. The margin spines are recurved like fishhooks and the tip spines can be more than 2,5 cm long.
Flowers:  spike with an cyme of big cream flowers up to 8 m in height; it does take about 10 years in warm regions and as much as 60 years in colder climates. It dies after blooming (monocarpic)
Flowering Period:  Early Summer to Late Summer
Habitat:  not below 10 degreees Celsius
Distribution:  Sand
Chorotype:  Mexico
Summer shedding:  Perenating

Agave americana, Agave ramosa, Century plant, American agave, American-aloe, אגבה أغاف أمريكي, אמריקנית


Derivation of the botanical name:
Agave, Greek aguuos, admirable, in allusion to the splendid appearance of the plants in flower.
americana, from America, North or South.
ramosa, ramosus, with many branches; branched.
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
  • The standard author abbreviation Moench is used to indicate Conrad Moench (1744 – 1805), a German botanist.

  • ‘As many species indigenous to America (e.g., Agave Americana, Opuntia ficus-indica, Helianthus tuberosus and Oenothera biennis s.l) have become part of our environment.
  • Agave Americana, native to Mexico, was first introduced into Europe probably in Spain, in the 16th century. A few hundred years later it was already fairly abundant along the Mediterranean coast.
  • During the Arab times (7th through 19th centuries) many introductions were made from the East along the caravan roads, the Silk Road from China to the Mediterranean shores to the Atlantic (mulberries, citruses, sugar cane, banana, pulses, fibers and spices, nut fruits (apricot, almond, pistachio)).
  • From the 15-16th centuries American species, introduced to Spain since Columbus’ expeditions, were also introduced to North Africa when the Moors, expelled from the Iberic Peninsula in 1610 and the Andalusians settled down in Northern Africa, bringing, among other species, the cacti, Agave, etc…
  • The 19th century CE was a time of great change due to the systematic introduction of a large number of plant species (with the procession of inadvertently accompanying diaspores). For a hundred years probably more than one thousand plant species of potential economic interest were deliberately introduced from various arid and semi-arid zones of the world. Among the wealth of introduction one must cite, Australian Eucalyptus, Acacia, Atriplex, Casuarina, etc. and many cultivars of cereals as well as many fruit tree species and cultivars in which wine and olive played a major role as they did some 2,500 years earlier’.

    *Preferred Citation: Biological Invasions in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin (Monographiae Biologicae) by F. di Castri, A.J. Hansen, and M Debussche (Jul 31, 1990)

    Agave has large rosette of sword-shaped fleshy leaves, each ending in a sharp point and with a sharp margin. A leaf can reach the lengths of a person.
    During flowering a tall stem or "mast" grows from the center of the leaf rosette and bears a large number of shortly tubular flowers.
    After development of fruit, the original plant dies, the flower shoot is cut out and the sap collected and subsequently fermented. By distillation, a spirit called mezcal is prepared; one of the best-known forms of mezcal is tequila.

    Agave americana is the source of pita fiber and is used to be turned into ropes. The sisal plant has a 7-10 year life-span and typically produces 200-250 commercially usable leaves. Each leaf contains an average of around 1000 fibres.
    The first commercial plantings in Brazil were made in the late 1930s and the first sisal fibre exports from there were made in 1948.
    In the 50th in the Negev about 4,000 dunam of Agave plants were planted (agricultural industrial suitable solution to the grounds of the Negev). The target of the governmental initiative was to develop sources of employment to the towns of the development that were set up in the same time, Dimona, Ofakim and Netivot.
    Jewish Agency’s Settlements and Negev departments organized to meet the production of industrial crops in order to stimulate agricultural related industries and the export market.
    A few years later a contract was signed for a factory of fibers 'ifco' with three Jews from Mexico, ( 20% from the shares – in the ownership JNF), machinery was bought from Germany and 19.3.1961 the factory began to work, adjacent to the Gilat junction. Gilat is situated in Israel's northern Negev (31°20' N, 34°40' E, elevation 150 m above mean sea level) near Ofakim.
    After two years, as a result of conflicts, decomposed the corporate ownership and the factory in entirety, on 102 employees was handed over to the JNF – the only industry she ever operated.
    But - "The business did not work":
    The factory finally closed on 29.3.1966.

    Agave americana, Agave ramosa, Century plant, American agave, American-aloe, אגבה  أغاف أمريكي, אמריקנית