The plant saves water throughout its life and flowers only once in its lifetime. The saved water enables the agave to develop a fast growing and maybe the tallest flower on earth. After its time of flowering, the life of the agave plant ends with the dispersal of its seeds and a hardening of its stem into wood. Follow the whole lifecycle below or watch our video on YouTube
The Agave develops a flower stem after 7 years, and sometimes it takes more than 30 years. The flower stem resembles a giant Asparagus which can be, depending on the species, as high as 12 meters and can grow at a rate of up to 1.5 meters per week (14-20 cm a day!).
The kernel (known as Piña), which resembles a giant pineapple, is revealed by cutting away the leaves. The revealed kernel contains the highest quantity of sugar which is used for a great variety of bio-products, now produced on an industrial scale. Examples of these products are bio ethanol, a number of drinks and Inulin.
Aguamiel, translated into English as “honey water”, can be extracted from plants aged from 6 to 8 years. A big Agave can supply between 8 to 15 liters per day and up to 1000 liters per plant. This nutritive juice contains more calcium than cow milk and a total of 8 Minerals and 4 Vitamins. The extracted Aguamiel can be transformed into a healthy sweetener in the form of Syrup, which contains 70% fructose and 90% carbohydrates. Compared with the sugar obtained from cane or beetroot, it tastes 20% sweeter and can be used by diabetics.
The Aguamiel can be fermented for a period of about 10 days after which a traditional Mexican drink named Pulque is produced. This fermented beverage is also known as Agave beer or Agave wine. Pulque has been brewed for at least 2000 years and has been used in ceremonies and rituals throughout the ages.
Tequila is the most famous alcoholic beverage produced from A.Tequilana and it is consumed all over the world. Mexico produces more than 200 million liters of Tequila per year and it is one of the biggest and most important economic export products of the country. The purity is controlled by the “Consejo Regulador de Tequila” (CRT). International law states that other kinds of Tequila spirits can only be sold as “Tequila” if they contain at least 51% Agave. Another type of spirit obtained from the Piña is known as Mezcal.
☉ The Roots grow 30 – 40 cm deep into the soil enabling them to easily soak up available rainwater.
☉ Big plants can have roots of 7 to 8 meters in diameter.
☉ When found on hill sides they help protect the land from erosion.
☉ The roots are a fantastic source of Saponin and can be perfectly used to make soap or shampoo.
☉ Agave plants have a large rosette of thick fleshy leaves, shaped to collect and carry water to the roots. The leaves are composed of 2% – 5% of fiber and 95% biomass. Generally, each leaf ends in a sharp point to defend their water.
☉ Under good conditions an Agave can grow up to 20 leaves per year. The average life span of a leaf is 10 – 15 years. Generally spoken, the leaves are glabrous and contain long fibers, which is an important character for them to be utilized for the production of natural fibers (Sisal, Henequén or Ixtle).
☉ The roasted leaves are used as tiles or to cover walls in bio-construction.
This film has been created by Timbe after visiting an Agave factory for Sisal fiber extraction in Awassa, Ethiopia, in 2008: Watch video on YouTube
☉ The flowers produce abundant nectar which attracts its natural pollinators like birds, bats or insects.
☉ The Agave is a flowering plant which produces capsules at the end of the dry season to increase its reproductive possibilities. At maturity (beginning of the rainy season), the capsules split apart to release the seeds within.
☉ To secure the reproduction, some varieties reproduce themselves through inflorescence bulbils, which grow on the flower stem up to 12 meters above the ground. A single A.Sisalana mother plant produces between 1000 to 4000 bulbils to ensure a successful reproductive cycle.
☉ The flowers are good for food, prepared together with fried eggs.
The fast growing wood is 100% sostainable.
It’s a precious gift from the desert.
The lifecycle of the agave plant is completed after its time of flowering. The wood is harvested only after the wind has spread the seeds and the plant has completely died. The stem grows approx. 1,5m per week(!!) and up to 12m in height, and as a result of this rapid growth it develops a fibrous but sturdy material with a resistant outside shell similar to that found in bamboo, but with a core like balsa-wood. The wood is very light in weight, really easy to split and work with, and has an exotic appearance with a range of beautiful natural colors. Harvesting at the right time and proper storage conditions are particularly important for the quality of the wood. The dried flower stems are used for the creation of musical instruments and many other handcrafted items, as well as for profesional Surfboards, roof beams in house construction, scaffolding, stools and ladders. They can even be split and hollowed for use as irrigation line half-pipes for the transport of water.
To use the wood, it can only be harvested on the death of the plant, which makes it a truly sustainable resource from the desert. While deforestation and the destruction of ancient forests continues, seemingly without end, the Agave wood is at least a small contribution on a way out of the worldwide environmental crisis that becomes more evident every day.
Principal Uses of the Agave with social-economic and agro-ecologic importanceness
|USES||PRODUCTS||PART OF THE AGAVE|
|FOODS||Fructose syrup, healthy sweeteners, Inulin & Pulque bread Guisos y sweets Barbecue Worms||Piña Flower & fruit Flower stem & leave Leaves & piña|
|DRINKS||Aguamiel, atole, pulque, mezcal, tequila, vinager||Piña|
|AGRO-ECOLOGICAL||Living fence & soil furtherer Organic fertilizer||Whole plant Composted leave & piña|
|FODDER||Animal feedstock||Leave & Flower|
|CONSTRUCTION||Fencing, houses, corrals Roof tiles Thermic insulation Channels to collect rainwater||Flower stem & leave Leave Flower stem & fiber Leaves|
|FIBRES||Bio plastics, cellulose pulp and paper, rope & twine, baskets, brooms, brushes, geotextiles, carpets, fiber boards, molded furniture||Leave fibre|
|MEDICAL||Heals swellings, inner injuries and rheumatism Preventive to cancer & scurvy, reduces inflammation, cures anemia, heals wounds||Leave & root Nectar & Pulque|
|ORNAMENTAL||Handicrafts, musical instruments, Furniture Garden centers||Flower stem Whole plant|
|DOMESTIC||Soap & shampoo Needle & twine Flower pots, pencil holders, etc.||Leave, flower stem & roots Spikes y strand leaves Flower stem & piña|
|OTHER USES||Pharmaceutical & chemical industry, Ethanol (distilled and cellulosic), biogas, jet-fuel, biodiesel, bio coal, bio oil, buthanol, methanol, pellets, adhesive, insulating foam, concrete additive, biopolymers, acids, antifreeze, gel, esters, wax, etc.||Whole plant|
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