by Stephen Mifsud
   31 Jan 2023      ()
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Agave americana   (American Agave)

Agave americana  (ASPARAGACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Jul-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Agave americana - datasheet created on Jul-2007. Retrieved from on 31-Jan-2023

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Agave americanaL.
Published in Sp. Pl. 323 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Agave milleri Haw.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Asparagaceae Juss. (=Liliaceae) (The Asparagus Family)
33 species from the Asparagaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

American Agave, Century Plant, American Aloe

Maltese name(s) :

Sabbara tal-Amerika, Agave

Status for Malta :

Invasive Alien. Species that was introduced in Malta any time after year 1492 (Columbus' discovery of the New World), and spreads rapidly to form large invasive populations to the detriment of native flora or ecosystems.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: Macro-Phanerophyte ( high trees usually over 10 m high )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

July – September

Colour of Flowers:

Green or Cream


May cause allergic reactions or irritation in contact with the skin or mucous membranes

Name Derivation :

Agave: from the Greek 'agauos', meaning admirable or noble, in reference to the supposedly admirable appearance of the century plant (at least when they are in numerous flowers). (Greek origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Cannot be planted in the wild (rural areas) since the species may be invasive (see ERA guidelines)

Remarks :

Introduced as an ornamental plant and became invasive in several wild places namely by the coast. Examples include Bahar ic-Caghaq (near Maghtab), Ghar Lapsi and Ta' Cenc. Flowers are produced once in the plant's lifetime, after 10 to 100 years and then the plant dies. The flowering stalk is impressively large and tall and holds both seed-producing flowers (sexual reproduction) and reproductive plantlets (asexual reproduction).

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Widely naturalized, mainly near the coast.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Grows well everwhere where it is cultivated but invades most exposed rocky ground near the coast
Botanical Description: Very robust, stoloniferous herb; stem scarcely developed. Leaves 1-2 m x 15-25 cm, constricted above the broad, sheathing base, glaucous, remotely spinose-dentate, with a stout, blackish terminal spine 2-3 cm long. Scape (including inflorescence) 4-7(-10) m. Peduncle 8-15 cm in diameter, woody at maturity, equal to or shorter than the panicle, bearing triangular, leaf-like bracts. Panicle pyramidal; flowers aggregated in dense clusters at the ends of horizontal branches; leafy buds sometimes present in axils of bracteoles, replacing some or all of the flowers. Flowers (including ovary) 70-90 mm; perianth-segments linear-oblong, obtuse, erect, greenish-yellow. Filaments 70-80 mm, inserted on the hypanthial tube; anthers 30-35 mm. Capsule oblong, trigonous.
Distributional range: Mediterranean region, C. & S. Portugal and Azores.
Native region outside Europe: (Mexico)

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Introduced in Albania, the Azores, the Balaeric Islands, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
[AE(G) Al Az Bl Ca Co Cr Ga Gr Hs It Ju Li Lu Ma Md Sa Si Tu(A)]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (18 images)
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-0.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-1.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-2.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-3.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-4.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-5.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-6.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-7.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-8.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-9.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-10.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-11.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-12.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-13.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-14.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-15.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-16.
   Agave americana   -   Image Code: AGVAM-17.

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