A native of Mexico, Agave (Agave americana), also commonly called century plant, is a succulent that has gained popularity both as an ornamental plant for arid regions and as a source of nectar. The plant is notable for its fleshy, sharp leaves and its towering flower stalk, which can reach heights of up to 40 feet.
Due to the plant's rigid, sharp leaves, the agave plant is sometimes used as a natural fence or border in Central America and Mexico. Multiple agave plants grown close together form a dense hedge, and are difficult for people or animals to pass. Use caution around these plants, as they have very sharp needles at the end of their leaves. A puncture from an agave plant can be quite unpleasant.
Extremely heat and drought tolerant, the agave plant is commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant in cactus or rock gardens. Lovely as a centerpiece or as a border, agave is an exotic looking plant that is more than striking when flowering. The plant grows best in full sunlight, in soil that is extremely well drained and loose--rocky or sandy soil would be best. Agave plants should only be planted where their size can be accommodated, as the leaves of the plant may grow as far out as 6 feet.
The nectar of the Agave plant, which is harvested from the base of young flower stalks, is commonly used as an alternative to sugar in cooking. Similar in consistency to honey, Agave nectar is also commonly used as a sweetener for tea. Distilled agave nectar from the blue agave plant of Mexico is used to make tequila. The flowers, stalks and leaves are also edible, though they are less widely consumed than the nectar.