The genus Agave is treated here in a wide sense to include taxa previously treated as belonging to the genera Manfreda, Prochnyanthes, Polianthes and Pseudobravoa. Not all botanists are happy with this treatment, with some feeling that these genera should remain distinct, at least until further studies have been carried out. In addition, given the high species diversity found in Agave, some feel that an alternative approach could be the recognition of several smaller genera within the current circumscription of Agave[
This species is closely related to Agave chrysoglossa[
Agave eduardi Trel.
Agave houghii Trel.
Agave mayoensis Gentry
Common Name: Octopus Plant
Agave vilmoriniana is an evergreen, succulent plant forming a short trunk topped by a rosette of leaves that can be 100cm tall and 200cm in diameter. The leaves on mature plants can each be 90 - 180cm long and 7 - 10cm wide near the base. After several years of growth, a flowering stem that can be up to 3 - 5 metres tall is produced, after which the rosette will die[1842.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a soap and to make brushes. These brushes have been observed on sale in local markets along the west coast of Mexico[
]. Agave vilmoriniana is also used as an
Agave vilmoriniana has a wide range. Even though its habitat is threatened by cattle ranching, it is abundant
and the overall population is stable. It also occurs in protected areas. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2019)[
The plant contains toxins (probably saponins) that are used to sturefy fish[
Many Agave species have strong, sharp spines on the leaves and leaf tips.
In theory at least, the flowers, nectar, immature flowering stem and the centre of the rosette of all Agave species is edible and, with proper preparation, can provide a sweet, tasty foodstuff. Some species, however, contain relatively high levels of saponins (which makes them taste bitter) and some other compounds which can cause bellyache, and so these would only be eaten in times of desperation. In addition, many people may find these foods to be strongly laxative the first few times they eat them[
Southwest N. America - north and west Mexico (Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, Jalisco and Zacatecas)
Tropical deciduous forests and oak forests, growing on volcanic brecciated cliffs of the barrancas, in larger and deeper canyons, often forming extensive vertical colonies; at elevations from 850 - 1,850 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Agave vilmoriniana is found in semi-arid and arid regions in the tropical and subtropical climate of northern and western Mexico at elevations up to 1,850 metres. Whilst most of its range does not experience frost, plants at higher elevations (above around 1,200 metres) will often experience sharp frosts, and some plants in cultivation have been known to tolerate temperatures as low as -9°c[
Agave species generally require a sunny position, succeeding in most soils of medium-fertility so long as they are very well-drained. Most species are undemanding as to the soil pH, though those found in the wild on limestone soils will grow better in neutral to alkaline conditions. The plant is able to withstand prolonged drought[
]. Cultivated plants in southern California have withstood protracted drought easily and can take in water during the chilling winter rains[
Many of the plants growing wild on cliffs, for lack of soil, remain stunted through their lives, their maturation inhibited, and the inflorescence is feeble when at last it does appear[
Plants will often produce bulbils on the flowering stem[
Agave species are monocarpic, individual plants living for a number of years without flowering then sending up an often very large flowering stem and then dying after flowering and producing bulbils as well as setting seed. The plants of most species normally produce a number of new plants from suckers during their lifespan, but this species has never been observed to do this[
Individual plants take about 7 - 15 years in their native habitat, considerably longer in colder climates, before flowering[
This plant is rich in saponins and is used for washing clothes and other fabrics, as dish soap and as shampoo[
The plant is also very fibrous and by cutting the old dried leaf bases of dead flowered plants about 15 - 20cm above the base, then loosening the fibres, an effective brush with a built in soap or detergent is created. The brushes contain sapogenin (smilagenin), which forms 3 - 4.5% of the dry leaf[
]. These brushes have been observed on sale in local markets along the west coast of Mexico[
Seed - surface sow in a light position, mid spring in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15 - 20°c[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained soil when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a sunny position in the greenhouse until they are at least 15cm tall. Plant out at the beginning of the growing season, and give some protection from the cold for at least their first few winters[
Offsets and suckers can be potted up at any time they are available. Keep in a warm greenhouse until they are well established[
Bulbils, where produced, are an easy method of propagation. Simply pot them up and plant out at the beginning of a growing season when they are 10cm or more tall.