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Family Agavaceae
Agave vivipara L.

Scientific names Common names
Agave aboriginum Trel. Agave (Engl.)
Agave angustifolia Haw. [Illegitimate] Dwarf aloe (Engl.)
Agave bergeri Trel. ex A.Berger [Invalid] Dwarf sisal (Engl.)
Agave breedlovei Gentry Narrow-leaved century plant (Engl.)
Agave bromeliifolia Salm-Dyck Sword agave (Engl.)
Agave costaricana Gentry  
Agave cuspidata Baker  
Agave donnell-smithii Trel.  
Agave elongata Jacobi  
Agave endlichiana Trel.  
Agave excelsa Jacobi  
Agave flaccida Haw.  
Agave flavovirens Jacobi  
Agave houlletii Jacobi  
Agave ixtli Karw. ex Salm-Dyck  
Agave ixtlioides Hook.f.  
Agave jacquiniana Schult. & Schult.f.  
Agave kirchneriana A.Baker  
Agave lespinassei Trel.  
Agave owenii I.M.Johnst.  
Agave pacifica Trel.  
Agave panamana Trel.  
Agave prainiana A.Baker  
Agave prolifera Schott ex Standl.  
Agave punctata Kunth  
Agave rigida Mill.  
Agave serrulata Karw.  
Agave sicifolia Trel.  
Agave theoxmuliana Karw. ex M.Roem.  
Agave vivipara L.  
Agave wightii J.R.Drum. & Prain  
Agave yaquiana Trel.  
Agave yxtli Karw. ex G.Don  
Agave zapupe Trel.  
Aloe vivipara (L.) Crantz  
Fucraea rigida (Mill.) Haw.  
Agave, derived from the scientific name is the adopted common name for most agave species: (1) Magey, maguey, agave, Agave americana (2) Agave, Agave angustifolia
Paper presents a position that A. angustifolia and A. vivipara are two different taxa. . . . Agavaceae.com
Agave angustifolia Haw. is a synonym of Agave vivipara The Plant List
Agave vivipara L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
FRENCH: Agave vivipare, Zapupe estopier, Sisal du salvador.
INDIA: Khetki. 
MALAYSIA: Kelumpang telur.
SPANISH: Agave espadín, Espadin.
OTHERS: Na-nat-shaw-pu.

Taxon conflicts
The confusion of Agave vivipara L. and A. angustifolia Haw., two distinct taxa . . . The present paper was motivated by a publication of Wijnands (1983), in which his treatment of Agave angustifolia is completely different from our concept of the species. The economic importance of A. angustifolia makes it essential that its taxonomy and nomenclature be set straight.
          Wijnands (1983) lectotypified Agave vivipara L. and relegated Agave angustifolia Haw. to synonymy. Even though he cited Trelease (1913), Berger (1915), and Hummelinck (1936), he disagreed with these authors' treatments of A. vivipara and A. angustifolia as distinct species. He also chose not to follow Gentry's (1982) account of the Agaves of continental North America, in which A. angustifolia was treated as a distinct species.
        We agree with Wijnands' choice of the lectotype of Agave vivipara, namely Commelin's illustration (t. 15, 1703), wrongly cited as t. 65 by Linnaeus (1753) in the protologue; however, we disagree with his treatment of A. angustifolia Haw. as being conspecific with A. vivipara.


Agave is an herb with dense rosette of sword-shaped, stiff and straight grayish green leaves with sharp-pointed tips and prickled margins. Some varieties have white-margined leaves.

- Native to South America.
- Introduced to the Philippines during the American period.
- Ornamental cultivation, providing a spiny accent to gardens.

- Leaves of these species yield secondary metabolites like fructans and flavonoids, but mainly terpenoids and steroidal saponins. Roots are considered diuretic and diaphoretic. (5)
- Study yielded two steroidal saponins with the structures of hecogenin oligosaccharides from the saponin fraction. (8)

- Roots are considered diuretic and diaphoretic.
- Considered anti-inflammatory,

Parts utilized
Leaves, roots, stems.


- No known folkloric use in the Philippines.
- In India, fresh juice of leaves applied externally to bruises.
- Juice of cooked leaves and stems and a root infusion are taken internally or used as poultices for bruises, internal and external swelling, arthritis, and dysentery.
- In Ayurveda, used as diuretic and expelling kidney stones.
- In Mexican traditional medicine, used to treat inflammation associated conditions. Sap used for treatment of digestive troubles. Also, as remedy for sprains and fractures in both people and animals.    (5)
• Agave Nectar is a blend of two agave varieties: A salmiana and A. angustifolia.

• While mention is made on the confusion regarding the taxa of A. angustifolia and A. vivipara, this section will continue to include studies and readings attributed to both A. angustifolia and A. vivipara.
• Studied as alternative gene pools to preserve Agave germplasm diversity for the production of traditional Agave spirits. source
Mezcal: Study of five agave plants used in Mexico for mezcal production yielded sixteen fatty acids, including capric and lignoceric. Lipids included free fatty acids, ß-sitosterol and groups of mono-, di-, and triacylglycerols. (1)
Prebiotic / Fructans / Anti-Cancer: Study evaluated the fermentation properties and potential prebiotic activity of branched fructans derived from Agave angustifolia in a SHIME model. Agave fructans showed prebiotic activity, particularly in relation to colon health in its positive influence on gut barrier function, an important aspect of colon carcinogenesis. (3)
Anti-Urolithiatic: Study evaluated the anti-urolithiatic activity of extracts of Agave angustifolia in experimentally induced urolithiatic rats. Results confirmed the beneficial effects in urolithiasis. Administration of aqueous extract and ethanol extracts of Agave angustifolia enhanced extraction of biochemical parameters (sodium, potassium, oxalate, chlorides, calcium), decreasing their levels in the blood, and also decreasing urinary level of uric acid. (4)
Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory effect of three species of agave genus—A. americana, A. tequilana and A. angustifolia in auricular edema induced TPA model. Results showed a significant decrease of edema caused by TPA. (
Antibacterial: Ethyl acetate extract (EAE) of Agave angustifolia exhibited strongest activities against S. aureus, S. pneumoniae, B. cereus, P. aeruginosa and S. typhi. (
Confusion of A. angustifolia and A. vivipara / Two different Taxa: Paper presents a position that A. angustifolia and A. vivipara are two different taxa. The economic importance of A. angustifolia makes it essential that its taxonomy and nomenclature be set straight. (7)
Taxa Confusion: There has been considerable confusion over this name. We have followed the treatment of Garcia-Mendoza and Chiang (Brittonia Vol 55 No.1 pp82-87. 2003)[662] who treat this as a distinct species, separate from A. Vivipara and with a distinct range.(9)

- Wildcrafted.
- Commerce: Agave Nectar, a low-glycemic sweetener, is a blend of two varieties: Agave salmiana and Agave angustifolia.

Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Updated April 2016
Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Characterization of Five Typical Agave Plants Used To Produce Mezcal through Their Simple Lipid Composition Analysis by Gas Chromatography / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2009, 57 (5), pp 1933–1939 / DOI: 10.1021/jf802141d

Agave angustifolia Haw. / The Plant List
An exploratory study into the putative prebiotic activity of fructans isolated from Agave angustifolia and the associated anticancer activity / Philip Allsopp, Sam Possemiers, David Campbell, Iván Saldaña Oyarzábal, Chris Gill, Ian Rowland / Anaerobe, Volume 22, August 2013, Pages 38–44
Anti-urolithiatic activity of extracts of plant –agave angustifolia in rats / Singh, Lalit / Dissertation / DSpace at RGUHS University
Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Different Agave Plants and the Compound Cantalasaponin- 1 / Nayeli Monterrosas-Brisson, Martha L. Arenas Ocampo, Enrique Jiménez-Ferrer, Antonio R. Jiménez-Aparicio, Alejandro Zamilpa, Manases Gonzalez-Cortazar, Jaime Tortoriello and Maribel Herrera-Ruiz * / Molecules 2013, 18, 8136-8146 / doi:10.3390/molecules18078136
ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITIES OF AGAVE ANGUSTIFOLIA AND PITTOSPORUM FERRUGINEUM / Ainil Farhan / Journal of Environmental Microbiology and Toxicology, Vol 1, No 1 (2013)
The confusion of Agave vivipara L. and A. angustifolia Haw., two distinct taxa / García-Mendoza, Abisaí & Fernando Chiang /
Two steroidal saponins from Agave franzosinii and Agave angustifolia leaves and Biological activities of Agave franzosinii. / Suzan A. Mina, Farouk R. Melek, * Soad M. Abdel-khalik, Nagwan M. Gabr / Journal of Natural Products, Vol. 6(2013):188-197
Agave angustifolia Haw. / Useful Tropical Plants
The confusion of Agave vivipara L. and A. angustifolia Haw., two distinct taxa / ABISAI, GARCIA-MENDOZA AND FERNANDO CHIANG / Agavaceae.com

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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