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Medical disclaimer: always check with a physician before consuming wild plants, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore also has a glossary of medical terms in his books, and maps in later editions. ) 
#75
Common Name: Agave, Century Plant, Maguey 
Latin Name: Agave americana, A. sisalana, A. parviflora, A. utahensis, A. schottii, A. parryi, Manfreda viginica
Family: Liliaceae
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=agam California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Hawaii (Agave americana)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AGSI2 Florida, Hawaii (Agave sisalana)http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AGUT California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona (Agave utahensis)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=MAVI5 all states east  along the west bank of the Mississippi R. conjunction with the Ohio R., and states that border on the northside of the Ohio R.  including Maryland and south, plus Oklahoma and Texas. (Manfreda virginica)
 http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AGSC3 Arizona, New Mexico (Agave schottii) (covered by Michael Moore)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AGPAP5 Arizona, New Mexico, Texas (Agave parryi)
Photos: (click on latin name after common name)
#75(a)
Common Name: Agave, Century Plant (Agave americana) Appearance and Habitat: Very large, handsome evergreen  lily-like blue-green foliage. Xeric qualities and a stunning bloom stalk with maturity at ten years or more. Makes a great landscape focal point or accent and can be used in pots away from foot traffic. Best in full sun, but can take light shade. Winter damage occurs after low winter teen temperatures and is persistent on leaf surfaces until it recovers. (1)  Original habitat is unknown but it grows wild in Mexico on cultivated land and in pine woods.  Sandy places in desert scrub at elevations around 200 meters in Texas and eastern Mexico.  South-western N. America, naturalized in the Mediterranean.
Warnings: Contact with the fresh sap can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.  The plants have a very sharp and tough spine at the tip of each leaf.  They need to be carefully sited in the garden. (2)Edible Uses: The heart of the plant is very rich in saccharine matter and can be eaten when baked. Sweet and nutritious, but rather fibrous. It is partly below ground. Seed – ground into a flour and used as a thickener in soups or used with cereal flours when making bread. Flower stalk – roasted. Used like asparagus. Sap from the cut flowering stems is used as a syrup or fermented into pulque or mescal. The sap can also be tapped by boring a hole into the middle of the plant at the base of the flowering stem. (3)
Medicinal Uses: The sap of agaves has long been used in Central America as a binding agent for various powders used as poultices on wounds. The sap can also be taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery etc. The sap is antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic and laxative. An infusion of the chopped leaf is purgative and the juice of the leaves is applied to bruises. The plant is used internally in the treatment of indigestion, flatulence, constipation, jaundice and dysentery. The sap has disinfectant properties and can be taken internally to check the growth of putrefactive bacteria in the stomach and intestines. Water in which agave fibre has been soaked for a day can be used as a scalp disinfectant and tonic in cases of falling hair. Steroid drug precursors are obtained from the leaves. A gum from the root and leaf is used in the treatment of toothache. The root is diaphoretic and diuretic. It is used in the treatment of syphilis. All parts of the plant can be harvested for use as required, they can also be dried for later use. The dried leaves and roots store well. (4)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4) http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Agave+americana
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#75 (b)     
Common Name: Sisal Hemp (Agave sisalana)
Appearance and Habitat: An herbaceous monocotledonous plant from the Agavaceae family.  Originally from Central America and Mexico, sisal grows in many tropical countries with Tanzania and Brazil being curtrently the two main producers.  They are native to North America expanding from Mexico.
Warnings: Avoid using the juice or sap, internally when pregnant.
Edible Uses: The plant can be eaten when baked.  Several beverages are made including Mescal by steaming the heads and main stock, mashing them with water and allowing them to ferment for several days the resulting fluid is distilled.
Medicinal Uses: Sisalana can help lower the blood pressure.  It is also used as and antiseptic nad is taken to stop the growth of bacteria in the stomach and intestine.  It has been used in the treatment of syphilis.  Sterols, steroidal sapogenins, steriodal alkaloids and alkaloidal amines are derived from Sisalana, and these substances derived from the plant sources provide the starting materials for steroid production.  Sisalana was manufactured to cortisone by the process of Spensley et al.  (1995) which defines the process of manufacturing the cortisone from hecogenin (IV), a saponin of Sasalana.  The juice obtained from the leaves stimulates the intestinal and uterine musculature, lowers the blood pressure and produces abortion in pregnant animals.   The sap has antiseptic properties and is taken to stop the growth of bacteria in the stomach and intestine. In Northern Morocco, the juice from the leaves of this species is used in folk medicine as a wash for skin diseases.   It is used for syphilis and recommended fro pulmonary tuberculosis, diseased liver, and jaundice.   It can also be used as a laxative.  A gum from the root and leaf is used in the treatment of toothache.
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#75 (c)
Common Name:  Utah Agave, Mescal,  (Agave utahensis) Appearance and Habitat: Tall, narrow spikes of yellow flowers arise from basal leaves.  Leaves: blades 14 long, narrow; with terminal spine, lateral prickles; form rosettes. Utilized for food and as source of the beverage mescal by Native Americans.  In canyons, rocky slopes (generally in limestone) in mixed shrub pinyon-juniper communities. (1)  Dry stony slopes limestone slopes 1000 to 1500 meters in elevation.  Calcareous outcrops with desert scrub at elevations of 1100 – 1900 meters in California and Nevada.  South western N. America – a perennial  growing to 4 m (13ft) by 2 m (6ft). (Note: that is the stalk height, when not in flower they are less than a foot tall. )  Hardy to zone 9 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan. (2)
Warnings: The plants have a very sharp and tough spine at the tip of each leaf.  They need to be carefully sited in the garden. (3)
Edible Uses: The heart of the plant is very rich in saccharine matter and can be eaten when baked. Sweet and delicious, but rather fibrous. It is partly below ground. Can be dried for future use or soaked in water to produce a flavourful beverage. Seed – ground into a flour. Flower stalk – roasted. Root – cooked. Sap from the cut flowering stems is used as a syrup. The sap can also be tapped by boring a hole into the middle of the plant at the base of the flowering stem. It can be fermented into ‘Mescal’, a very potent alcoholic drink. (4)   (When I was younger my mother called the plant Mescal.  In southern Nevada in the juniper pinyon belt you would find flat looking areas in the distance with white rock around the outsides.  In the middle was a pit, where the Native Americans would roast the Mescal.  At a distance they looked like small mine dumps, on closer inspection you saw the pit, several yards across and the limestone, which had turned white from the heat. )
Medicinal Uses: The sap is antiseptic, diuretic and laxative. (5)
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#75(d)
Common Name: False Aloe, Rattlesnake Master,  (Manfreda virginica)
Appearance and Habitat: The thick, leathery, strap-like leaves, to 16 in. long, occur in a basal rosette around the 4-5 ft., upright, flowering stalk of this perennial. Unusual, greenish-white, tubular flowers with conspicuous stamens  are borne in a spike-like cluster atop the stalk. Found in dry thickets and woods, sandstone outcroppings.  The leaf is green and  lanceolate, with or without spots (1)  Grows in the arid and semi-arid regions of tropical America and in some parts of Europe. (2)
Warnings: (same as above)
Edible Uses: Plant used to make a drink (3)
Medicinal Uses: Infusion of pounded roots taken and sed externally for dropsy. Infusion of pounded roots taken and used as a wash for snakebites. The root was chewed to rid yourself of worms and also chewed for diarrhea.  The root was also chewed for liver problems. (4) The sap has antiseptic properties and is taken to stop the growth of bacteria in the stomach and intestine. Can also be used as a laxative. Used for syphilis. Recommended at times for pulmonary tuberculosis, diseased liver, and jaundice.  Agave fiber soaked in water for a day is used as a scalp disinfectant and a tonic in cases of falling hair. Boil 1 tablespoon of the plant in a pint of water or powdered plant take 1/2 teaspoon 3 times a day. (5)
Foot Notes: (1, 3) http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=MAVI5
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75(e)
Common Name: Century Plant, Parry’s Agave,  (Agave parryi)
Appearance and Habitat: For most of its life the plant is a rosette of thick, fleshy leaves, 1 1/2– 2 1/2 feet long, with spines along the margins, including one at the end of each leaf that is longer and stronger than the rest. If this terminal spine  is pulled out after the leaf is cut, 2 strong fibers from the outer edge will come out with it. The century plant is most impressive in its flowering stage, when from the center of the rosette  a stalk, 4–6 inches in diameter and similar in appearance to asparagus, grows rapidly to a height of 12–20 feet, sometimes growing as much as 18 inches a day. From the upper third of this stalk grow stout stems 1 1/2–3 feet long, each ending in an upturned cluster (6–12 inches in diameter) of yellow tubular flowers.  This stately sentinel of the Chihuahuan desert is confined almost entirely to that area. It is commonly called the century plant because it takes so long for it to produce a blossom, though under favorable conditions it may be only 12–15 years. (1) Semi-arid land, 1300 – 2400 meters.  Gravelly to rocky places in grasslands, desert scrub, chaparral, pinyon-juniper and oak woodlands.  A perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in). It is hardy to zone 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan. (2)
Warnings: The plants have a very sharp and tough spine at the tip of each leaf. (3)
Edible Uses:The heart of the plant is very rich in saccharine matter and can be eaten when baked. Sweet and nutritious, but rather fibrous. It is partly below ground. Seed – ground into a flour and used as a thickener in soups or used with cereal flours when making bread. Young flower stalk – raw or cooked. It was generally roasted. Tender young leaves – roasted. Sap from the cut flowering stems is used as a syrup. Nectar from the flowering stems is made into a sweet syrup. The sap can also be tapped by boring a hole into the middle of the plant at the base of the flowering stem. It can be fermented into ‘Mescal’, a very potent alcoholic drink. (4)
Medicinal Uses:The sap is antiseptic, diuretic and laxative. (5)
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(In addition to the above species that grow in the west, Michael Moore covers (Agave schottii) a western version of  Manfreda virginica, that grows in abundance in New Mexico mountains.)  
Appearance and Habitat: The appearance is similar to yucca and often mistaken for it.  Agave is a more robust plant with thicker spiny-edged leaves and a flowering stalk that, unlike yucca, forms arm-like branches.  It is usually found from 2,000 feet to 7,000 feet on mesas, limestone slopes, and rocky mountain sides.
Medical Uses:  Collect the leaves and tap roots of Agave. The leaves can be dried in a paper sack and take them from the north side of the plant, so the inner leaves aren’t sunburnt.  For the roots, take the roots of the small plants that grow from the larger one to keep the plant alive.  For the leaves, dry them in bundles until they are brittle-dry, then cut them and store them.  For the tap roots, cut them in half before drying them in cheese cloth folded.  Make a pocket in the cheese cloth.  Make sure that you hang them in the shade when drying any herb. The leaves and particularly the root contain the sapogenins hecongenin and tigogenin, soapy substances used in the manufacture of steroids.  A teaspoon of the leaf sap or 1/4 ounce of the dried leaf boiled in tea helps indigestion, stomach fermentation, and chronic constipation.  The fresh sap is used for burns, cuts ad skin abrasions.  The root, fresh or dried, makes a useful soap and, like yucca, has been used for arthritis – 1/2 teaspoon of the root powder in tea, morning and evening.  Constant use may interfere with oil-soluble vitamin absorption in the small intestine.  In Mexico it has also been used for jaundice, in similar doses.

Foot Notes:  Medicinal Plants Of the Mountain West  by Michael Moore, 1st Edition, page 19, publisher:  Museum of New Mexico Press ; copy right 1979  ISBN 0-89013-104-X

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#76
Common Name: Agrimony
Latin Name: Agrimonia gryposepala, A. striata, A. parviflora 
Family: Rosaceae
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AGST all of southern Canada, Rocky Mountain states, N. and S. Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky north through New England (Agrimonia striata)http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AGGR2 all states adjacent to the Mississii R. and east ward, except Flordia, N. and S. Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and corresponding southern Canada. (Agrimonia gryposepala)http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AGPA6 Texas to South Dakota, east to Georgia, Massachuesetts, Ontario. (Agrimonia parviflora)Photos:  (click on latin name after common name)
#76(a)
Common Name: Harvestlice (Agrimony parviflora)
Appearance and Habitat: Damp thickets and the edges of  low woods, growing in clumps.  Moist or dry soils.  Eastern N. America – Connecticut and New York to Florida, west to Texas and Nebraska.  A perennial  growing to 2 m (6ft 7in). It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September.
Warnings: None
Edible Uses: None
Medicinal Uses: A tea made from the whole plant is astringent. It is used in the treatment diarrhoea, bleeding, wounds, inflammation of the gall bladder, urinary incontinence etc. It is gargled as a treatment for mouth ulcers and sore throats. An infusion of the seedpods is used to treat diarrhoea and fevers. An infusion of the root is used as a blood tonic and is given to children to satisfy their hunger. The powdered root has been used to treat pox.
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Agrimonia+parviflora
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#76 (b&c)
Common Name: Tall Hairy Agrimony  (Agrimony gryposepala)Common Name: Roadside Agrimony (Agrimony striata) 
Appearance and Habitat: An erect, wand-like cluster of small yellow flowers extending above pinnately compound leaves; stem exudes spicy odor when crushed. The species name means having hooked sepals. The similar Southern Agrimony (A. parviflora) has leaves with 11-23 leaflets; it occurs from Ontario east to Massachusetts, south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to South Dakota. Five other very similar Agrimonia species occur in the East. It is found in thickets and woods and grows 3-6 feet tall.  The flowers are yellow and bloom in July and August.  It can grow in partial shade or shade. (1) A member of the Rose family, with foot-long thin terminal racemes of numerous yellow flowers.  As with all roses they are five petaled.  The flowers mature into little round burrs.  The basal leaves are shaped like mustard greens, hairy and pinnate, with three terminal leaflets.  The leaves are serrated, and like with roses, there are 3, 5, 7 on each stem. The two to three foot stem has smaller irregular leaves, usually three parted.  In the west,  it grows in the middle mountains of S. California (San Bernardino, Palomar, and San Jacinto) most of the coastal northwest, the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, most of the Rocky Mountains in yellow pine and ponderosa forests along sheltered, wooded streams, and meadows. (2)
Warnings: None
Edible Uses: None
Medicinal Uses:  Agrimony is an astringent and diuretic, containing many astringent acids and tannins.  Tea can be made from the dried root (1 teaspoon) or of the herb (1 tablespoon) as needed for urine acidity and mild bladder and urethra inflammations.  It is especially useful when the inflammations are causing a dull flank or lower back pain.  It is a short-term remedy  for urinary tract inflammations.  Both internally and externally use the tea for mild hives and moist skin eruptions.   A weak tea made from the leaves makes a soothing eyewash.   The tea is also useful externally for diaper rash or other chafing rashes for babies. The tea is rather useful as a daily tonic for people with sticky blood, high LDL cholesterol and moderate tendancy for platelet aggregation. (3)  
Foot Notes: ( 2, 3) Medicinal Plants Of the Mountain West  by Michael Moore, 1st Edition, page 20, publisher:  Museum of New Mexico Press ; copy right 1979  ISBN 0-89013-104-X

Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

 


 


 
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