Agave looks like it’s come straight out of prehistoric times, and could even survive an apocalypse with a smile. Thick, fleshy grey-green or variegated pointed leaves poke upwards and sideways. Sometimes they're smooth, sometimes they have serrations or spikes along the edge. It’s quite a spectacle that grows in a rosette and can just as easily turn out beautifully symmetrical or nonchalantly grow randomly in every direction. It grows slowly, but once agave has matured it will treat you to a strikingly long stem bearing a large number of cream flowers blooming in a fabulous torch. Otherwise it’s very stoical: not fickle, reliable, imperturbable - a plant you can grow old with.
Agave is a member of the agave family and grows in Central America and the dry, hot parts of North America. The plant travelled to Europe with sailors in the 16th century, and now grows all round the Mediterranean and can also survive in the temperate regions.
- Agave is used as a sweetener from which the Mexican national drink ‘pulque’ is made.
- Blue agave is the most important ingredient in that other popular Mexican drink, tequila.
- In Greek mythology Agave was a moon goddess with a bad temper (she killed both her husband and her son), but also a tough Amazon.