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Family Agavaceae
Agave americana L.

Scientific names Common names
Agave altissima name Zumagl. Magey (most Philippine dialects) 
Agave americana name L. Agave (Tag.)
Agave complicata Trel. ex Ochot. American agave (Engl.)
Agave cordillerensis Lodé & Pino Century plant (Engl.)
Agave felina Trel. Flowering aloe (Engl.)
Agave fuerstengergii Hacobi Spiked aloe (Engl.)
Agave gracilispina (Rol.-Goss.) Engelm. ex Trel. Maguey (Engl.)
Agave ingens A.Berger  
Agave melliflua Trel.  
Agave milleri Haw.  
Agave ornata Jacobi  
Agave picta Salm-Dyck  
Agave rasconensis Trel.  
Agave subtilis Trel.  
Agave subzonata Trel.  
Agave theometel Zuccagni  
Agave zonata Trel.  
Aloe americana (L.) Crantz  
Agave americana L. is an accepted name The Plant List
Agave, derived from the scientific name is the adopted common name for most agave species: (1) Magey, maguey, agave, Agave americana (2) Agave, sword agave, Agave vivipara L.

Other vernacular names
FINNISH: Raita agave.
HINDI: Kamal cactus, Gwarpatha.
KANNADA: Kantala.
SANSKRIT: Kantala.
SPANISH: Maguey espadin.
TELUGU: Kalabanda.

Agave is a tropical plant with about 300 species. The leaves are fibrous, growing upward from the ground forming a massive rosette. Both sides of the leaves are smooth, with prickly edges and a thorny tips. The plant produces a flower stalk in about ten years, and dies after the fruit ripens. The pineapple-shaped heart of the plant yields a sweet sticky juice, agave nectar.

- In thickets at low and medium altitudes.


- Study isolated two new spirostanol glycosides: agamenoside A and B.
Study yielded a new steroidal saponin: a bisdesmosidic spirostanol saponin. (3)

- Studies on chemical composition of leaves yielded high amount of total dietary fiber (38.40%), total sugars (45.83%), and protein (35.33%), with a relatively low ash content (5.94%) and lipid (2.03%). Agave inulin showed significant differences when compared to commercial inulin. (8)
- Study of leaves isolated tigogenin, hecogenin, 9-dehydrohecogenin, rockogenin,12-epirockogenin, gitogenin, chlorogenin and manogenin. (10)

- Considered antiseptic, depurative, diuretic and laxative.
- Studies suggest antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties.

Parts utilized
- Leaves, sap.

- The pineapple-shaped heart of the plant yields a sweet sticky juice, agave nectar, which can be made into a syrup and used as a sweetener, with a taste similar to honey.
- For cleansing the blood, a cup daily of an infusion of two grams of finely chopped leaves in each cup of water.
Infusion of the leaves used as disinfectant and tonic for falling hair.
- Sap of leaves used internally for wound healing and inflammations.
Infusion of the plant with honey to soothe irritation of the eyes.
- Decoction of leaves also used as wash for general eye problems.
- Powdered plant used for anemia, kidney diseases and liver problems.
- Agave is best known for its role in tequila.

Study yielded tetratriacontanol, tetratriacontyl hexadecanoate and a new 2-tritriacontylchromone; two of them exhibited significant antibacterial activity. (1)
Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of aqueous extracts and steroidal sapogenins of Agave americana. Extracts showed good anti-inflammatory activity. (2)
Hecogenin Tetraglycoside /Cytotoxic activity:
A new steroidal saponin from the leaves of Agave americana: Study isolated a new bisdesmosidic spirostanol saponin along with three known saponins. Hecogenin tetraglycoside showed cytotoxic activity against HL-60 human promyelocytic leukemia cells.
Cytotoxic activity: Study evaluated the cytotoxicity of various parts of medicinal plants such as Agave americana, Strychnos nuxvomica and Areca catechu using MCF-7 and Vero cell line. Results showed the methanol extract of Agave americana and aqueous extract of Areca catechu are potent cytotoxic. (6)
Fructosyl Transferase: Study investigated the possible role of fructosyl transferase in the biosynthesis of fructosans in Agave americana. The possible mechanisms of fructosan biosynthesis from sucrose is discussed. (7)
Anti-Anxiety / Leaves: Study evaluated the anti-anxiety effects of an ethanolic extract of Agave americana leaves in rat and mice. Results obtained from experimental models confirmed the anxiolytic activity (400mg/kg) comparable to standard drug diazepam. Activity was attributed to flavonoid phytoconstituents. (9)
Anti-Leishmanial / Leaves:
Study evaluated the comparative in vitro anti-leishmanial activity of various fractions of Agave americana extracts. An ethyl acetate fractions showed significant anti-leishmanial activity with IC50-25 µg/ml complete inhibition (IC50) at 50µg/ml. (11)
Study reports on the use of Agave americana fibers as a new low cost and abundant biosorbent to remove metal dye (Alpacide yellow) from aqueous solutions. Findings showed a spontaneous and endothermic biosorption process. (12)
Agave Dermatitis:
Study reports on a case of Agave-induced purpura in an otherwise healthy patient. Histopathology was consistent with an evolving leukocytoclastic vasculitis. (13) Study reports on 12 cases of self-inflicted contact dermatitis provoked by Agave americana, ten with systemic signs and symptoms, 8 with abnormal laboratory results. Treatment consisted of oral antihistamines and topical saline compresses. (14)

Caution !
Contact Dermatitis
- The sap of Agave americana contains calcium oxalate crystals, acrid oils, saponins, among other compounds. Despite the known irritants, dermatitis is only rarely reported. (see study above) (13)
- A
report of 12 cases of contact dermatitis secondary to intentional exposure in soldiers seeking sick leave. (see study above) (14)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update July 2010

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
New antibacterial tetratriacontanol derivatives from Agave americana L. / Virinder S Parmar et al / Tetrahedron • Volume 48, Issue 7, 1992, Pages 1281-1284 / doi:10.1016/S0040-4020(01)90790-2
Anti-inflammatory activity of aqueous extracts and steroidal sapogenins of Agave americana / Peana A T et al / Planta medica • 1997, vol. 63, no3, pp. 199-202
Two New Steroidal Glycosides from Fermented Leaves of Agave americana
Agave americana / Synonyms / The Plant List
Century plant / Common names / Flowers of India
In vitro cytotoxicity study of agave americana, strychnos nuxvomica and areca catechu extracts using mcf-7 cell line. / Anajwala CC1, Patel RM, Dakhara SL, Jariwala JK. / J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2010 Apr;1(2):245-52
Studies on fructosyl transferase from Agave americana / I.S. Bhatia, K.S. Nandra / Phytochemistry
Volume 18, Issue 6, 1979, Pages 923–927
Chemical Composition, Functional Properties, and Effect of Inulin from Tunisian Agave americana L. Leaves on Textural Qualities of Pectin Gel / Mohamed Ali Bouaziz, Rabaa Rassaoui, and Souhail Besbes / Journal of Chemistry, Volume 2014 (2014) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/758697
ANTI-ANXIETY EFFECT ON ETHANOLIC EXTRACTS OF AGAVE AMERICANA LINN / MOHAMMED SAIFUDDIN KHALID, SHAHID ABRAR, HAKEEMUDDIN KHAN / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research Vol 6, Suppl 1, 2013, Vol. 4, Issue 3, 2011 ISSN - 0974-2441
Anti-leishmanial activity of Agave americana L.– A traditional Indian medicinal plant / Chandreshwar Prasad Thakur*, Shyam Narayan, Shiv Bahadur, Meenakshi Thakur, Sashi Nath Pandey, Prabin Kumar, Pragya Misra, Pulok K Mukherjee & Dipendra K Mitra /
Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge Vol. 14 (4), October 2015, pp. 658-663
Biosorption of metal dye from aqueous solution onto Agave americana (L.) fibres / A M Ben Hamissa, M C Neibi, B Mahjoub, M Seffen / Int. J. Environ. Sci. Tech. 5(4), 501-508, Autumn 2008.
Purpuric agave dermatitis. / Ricks MR, Vogel PS, Elston DM, Hivnor C. / J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999 Feb;40(2 Pt 2):356-8.
Contact Dermatitis with Systemic Symptoms from Agave americana / Brenner S. · Landau M. · Goldberg I. / Dermatology 1998;196:408–411 / DOI:10.1159/000017933

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