Commonly grown species

Some commonly grown species include Agave americana, Agave angustifolia, Agave tequilana, Agave attenuata, Agave parviflora, Agave murpheyi, Agave vilmoriniana, Agave palmeri, Agave parryi and Agave victoriae-reginae.

Agave americana

One of the most familiar species is Agave americana, a native of tropical America. Common names include century plant, maguey (in Mexico), or American aloe (not related to the genus Aloe). The name "century plant" refers to the long time the plant takes to flower. The number of years before flowering occurs depends on the vigor of the individual plant, the richness of the soil, and the climate; during these years the plant is storing in its fleshy leaves the nourishment required for the effort of flowering.

Agave americana, century plant, was introduced into southern Europe about the middle of the 16th century, and is now widely cultivated as an ornamental, as it is in the Americas. In the variegated forms, the leaf has a white or yellow marginal or central stripe. As the leaves unfold from the center of the rosette, the impression of the marginal spines is conspicuous on the still erect younger leaves. The plants require protection from frost. They mature very slowly and die after flowering, but are easily propagated by the offsets from the base of the stem.

Blue A. americana occurs in abundance in the Karoo, and arid highland regions of South Africa. Introduced by the British settlers in 1820, the plant was originally cultivated and used as emergency feed for livestock. Today it is used mainly for the production of syrup and sugar.

Agave attenuata

A. attenuata is a native of central Mexico and is uncommon in its natural habitat. Unlike most species of agave, A. attenuata has a curved flower spike from which it derives one of its numerous common names - the foxtail agave. A. attenuata is also commonly grown as a garden plant. Unlike many agaves, A. attenuata has no teeth or terminal spines, making it an ideal plant for areas adjacent to footpaths. Like all agaves, A. attenuata is a succulent and requires little water or maintenance once established.

Agave tequilana

Agave azul (blue agave) is used in the production of tequila. In 2001, the Mexican Government and European Union agreed upon the classification of tequila and its categories. All 100% blue agave tequila must be made from the Agave tequilana 'Weber's Blue' agave plant, to rigorous specifications and only in certain Mexican states.