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Agave lechuguilla (Shin Dagger)


Scientific Name

Agave lechuguilla Torr.

Common Names

Lechuguilla, Shin Dagger, Tampico Fiber


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

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave


Agave lechuguilla is the 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.

How to Grow and Care

Agave is not a difficult plant to grow. They're slow-growing and dramatic and will even thrive on a bit of neglect. If you're the type of person who likes to fuss with houseplants and water a lot, Agave is probably not the plant for you. If, however, you're the type of person who likes to set it and forget it, and you have a sunny window, Agave might the way to go. Be aware that some of the large varieties will eventually outgrow your room (unless you have a large greenhouse), and Agave can be aggressive. They have irritating sap and sometimes very sharp thorns that can cause injuries to small children and even pets.

In general, Agaves do not need to be repotted every year. Most of the species commonly found in cultivation grow very slowly and will take a long time to outgrow their pot. It's also best to handle your Agave as little as possible since they do not like to be disturbed. See more at How to Grow and Care for Agave.


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.


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


BACK TO genus Agave
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