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Agave lechuguilla


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Asparagales
Family: Agavaceae
Genus: Agave
Species: A. lechuguilla
Binomial name
Agave lechuguilla
Torr., 1859

Lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla) is an agave found only in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts, almost always on limestone. For this reason it is an indicator species for the Chihuahuan Desert. The plant flowers once in its life, then it dies. The flowers are a great source of nutrients for insects, bats, and some birds.   The leaves are long, tough and rigid, with very sharp, hard points which can easily penetrate clothing and even leather, giving the colloquial name Shin-daggers. Native Americans living there have used fibers from the leaves (commonly called ixtle, but also a hard fiber known by the trade name Tampico fiber) to make ropes and mats. The water stored in this plant, rich in salts and minerals, is sold in Mexico as a sport drink, though the plant itself is poisonous to cattle, goats, and sheep.

The lechuguilla agave is also used to make a local alcohol beverage known as either "clandestino" or by the plant's name. It is almost clear, with a heavy yet pleasant flavor, though qality and flavor varies with the distiller's skills. The price is typically $10 a liter, sold in old soft drink or water bottles. Similar clandestinos are made from other plant materials throughout Mexico.

See also

  • Lechuguilla Desert
  • Lechuguilla Cave

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Agave_lechuguilla". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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