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Agave sisalana (Sisal)


Scientific Name

Agave sisalana Perrine

Common Names

Sisal, Sisal Agave, Sisal Hemp, Hemp Plant, Mescal


Agave rigida var. sisalana, Agave amaniensis, Agave segurae

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave


Agave sisalana is a succulent plant with a short stem and sword-shaped leaves extending from a basal rosette. It grows up to 6 feet (2 m) tall. Leaves are grey-green with a sharp dark brown spine at the end. They are up to 4 inches (10 cm) wide and up to 5 feet (1.5 m) long. A branched inflorescence forms atop an up to 30 feet (9 m) tall flower stalk with yellowish-green flowers.

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 injure 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 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.


Man has been harvesting and utilizing Agaves for approximately 9,000 years. The huge plant comprised a huge part of primitive man's diet. Closely related to lilies, there are three major parts that are edible: flowers, stalks or basal rosettes, and the sap. Leaves are a lesser edible part of the plant. See more at Agave: Edible Plant.


Native to southern Mexico but widely cultivated and naturalized in many other countries.


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