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Agave lechuguilla (Shin Dagger)

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Scientific Name

Agave lechuguilla Torr.

Common Names

Lechuguilla, Shin Dagger, Tampico Fiber

Synonyms

Agave poselgeri, Agave multilineata, Agave lophantha var. tamaulipasana, Agave lophantha var. subcanescens, Agave lophantha var. poselgeri

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave

Description

Agave lechuguilla is a small succulent that forms rosettes of 20 to 30 thick, fleshy leaves. It grows up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall. The leaves bend upward, have prickles on the margins, and end in a sharp spine. They are up to 2 inches (5 cm) wide and up to 18 inches (45 cm) long. At 10 to 15 years old, the rosette flowers once then dies. The flower stalk produced at this time is up to 12 feet (3.6 m) tall.

Agave lechuguilla - Lechuguilla Shin Dagger

Photo via wuestengarten.at

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 7a to 10b: from 0 °F (−17.8 °C) to 35 °F (+1.7 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Most Agaves are easy to grow and take little care once established.

These plants require full sun to part shade. If you are growing Agaves indoors, choose a bright, sunny window with as much sun as possible. Plants that are grown in low-light conditions become etiolated. Agave plants love going outside from spring to fall.

Agaves will tolerate most soils as long as they have good drainage, but their preference is sandy or rocky soil.

Mature plants are very drought tolerant. From spring to fall, water thoroughly your Agave when the soil mix becomes dry. In winter, water sparingly about once a month. Overwatering may encourage fungal root rot. When you are first establishing an Agave plant outdoors, water once or twice a week. Plants in containers require more frequent watering than those in the ground.

When the pot becomes full of roots, it has become pot-bound. If you notice your Agave becoming pot-bound, repot it with new soil in a new pot that is just slightly larger than the old one.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Agave.

Uses

Lechuguilla has been used for food, drink, and fiber for over 10,000 years. The toxic juices have been used as an arrow poison, a fish stupefier, a medicine, and a soap. Aztecs made a powerful antibiotic from a mixture of Lechuguilla juice and salt and used it as a dressing for wounds and a balm for skin infections. See more at Lechuguilla: Short Plant with a Long History.

Origin

Native to western Texas, southern New Mexico, and south into Mexico.

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