THE BLUE AGAVE PLANT - Agave tequilana




The Blue Agave - Agave tequilana, is an important economic crop, native to the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. Why so important? Because the blue agave is used to produce the base ingredient of that Mexican nectar known as tequila. Like other plants within its family, the blue agave grows to be a large succulent with spiky fleshy leaves that can reach an impressive 2 metres in height.

The blue agave thrives in the rich and sandy volcanic soils that are found at altitudes of more than 1,500 metres.

In their native environment, agaves will produce a tall and distinctive flowering stalk once they get to about five years old. This stalk will then grow an additional 5 metres topped with yellow flowers. If the blue agave is being grown for commercial reasons then this stalk is removed in order to save diverting energy away from the heart of the plant.

Agaves are an ancient family and so unlike most other insect pollinated plants, their flowers are pollinated by bats. In this case it is the native bat - Leptonycteris nivalis. Once pollinated, an agave is capable of producing several thousand seeds per plant. Unfortunately, once the blue agave has produced its seed it will die. However, all is not lost as suckering basal shoots would have emerged from the base of the dying mother plant.

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