Agaves

The way our ancestors called this plant providing food, drink, fiber, medicine and construction material is melt or mexcamelt (Nahuatl), tocamba (purépecha) and guada (otomí), but it has only been its use as a raw material in the production of beverages which has given him fame among them mead (neutlli) and its fermented, pulque (octli), its distillates mezcal (bacanora, raicilla, mezcal and mainly known as tequila).

The term Agave was given to him by the Swedish scientist Carl Nilsson Linaeus (Carlos Linneo) due to its properties and characteristics. Agave word of Greek origin, which refers to the daughter of Cadmus king of Thebes and the goddess Harmony, was a Maenad of Dionysus the Greek god of wine, described by Euripides in his work The Bacchae, which means admirable or noble, as well It is like those who have entered their study know it.

It is popularly known as the Caribbean term Maguey, as well as pulque, which the Spaniards used to identify this plant that they confused with the sabilas.

In Mexico it was known by the Mexicas as metl, Once installed in Tenochtitlán they found several uses among them the one of metl-calli (cooked maguey) or mezcal. Its abundance and the variety of names related to each community where it is found makes it senseless to relate it to a single name, to show it can be said that in the Cuicatec language of Guerrero it is called ucolili.

The agave is typical of American lands. Most species are found from Mexico to Colombia, being the first where around 200 species are reproduced exclusively. The geography and orography of Mexico that are framed between its western and eastern Sierra Madre present conditions that made the agave resist the drought and diversify from the center to the north of the country thanks to the action of its pollinators where we find mainly bats, birds and insects.

Dr. Rodrigo Medellín, better known as the Mexican Batman, is one of the specialists and conservatives of the agave and its bats pollinator.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBe3ZR3lEzI

Agave species

The main agaves that are used today to produce mezcal are the following:

 

Name Variations Rosette Leaf Thorn Inflorescence Flowering Reproduction Image
Americana Teometl (náhuatl), t’ ax’ uada (otomí),(náhuatl), americano, mezcal, serrano. 3 m wide and 2 m high Lanceolate, green to whitish Short, grayish Branched up to 9 m high May to September Semilla hijuelo
Americana var. Oaxacenesis Dua-bzog (zapoteco), yavi cuan (mixteco), arroquiño, blanco, castilla, cenizo, maguey de coyote, de pulque, de rayo, de sierra negra 3 m wide and 2 m high Straight and whitish Tiny or absent Branched up to 10 m high June to August Seed hijuelo
Cupreata Bilia, dob-bé, dob-lá, tobalá (zapoteco), papalometl (náhuatl: maguey mariposa), yaabendisi (mixteco), maguey de monte, ancho, cimarrón, maguey de mezcal, papalote, tuchi 1 m wide and 80 cm high Widely lanceolate, bright green Large and copper-colored curves Branched up to 6 m high January to March Seed
Angustifolia subsp tequilana Chelem (maya), doba-yej (zapoteco: maguey de flor), hamoc (seri), juya cuu (mayo:mezcal del monte), yavi incoyo (mixteco), annole, bacanora, maguey de campo, espadilla, espadín, mezcal, zapupe 1.5 m wide and 1 m high Straight, narrow, and rigid, light green to grayish Little Branched up to 5 m high January to May (north), July to October (south) Seed, bulbilo e hijuelo
Durangensis Cenizo 2 m wide and 1.5 cm high Wide and concave, grayish green Large and prominent Branched up to 4.5 m high July to November Seed e hijuelo
Americana var. Oaxacenesis Tequila 3 m wide and 2 m high Narrow, flattened and straight, bluish Little Branched up to 5 m high May to July Hijuelo, bulbilo and culture of weaves
Inaequidens Hocimetl (náhuatl), lechuguilla, 2.5 m wide and 1.5 cm high Wavy, light green to yellowish Large and small alternating Branched up to 7 m high December to March Seed
Rhodacantha Quixe,mexicano,mezcal,maguey de monte 4 m wide and 2 cm high Straight and fibrous, green to light green Small and dark Branched up to 9 m high May to August Seed e hijuelo
Salmiana subsp. Crassispina Mbänuada (otomí), bronco, cimarrón, manso, verde 2 m wide and 1.5 cm high Lanceolate and thick, dark green Large and wide Large and wide May to September Seed e hijuelo
Karwinskii Al-mal-bi-cuish (contal),bicuixe,dob-cirial,madrecuixe,tobasiche (zapoteco),cachutum (popoloca), barril,cirial 1.5 m de ancho y 1.5 cm de alto sobre un tronco de hasta 2.5 Rectas angostas, verde oscuro Pequeñas Ramificada hasta 3.5 m de alto por encima de la planta Junio a septiembre Semilla, bulbilo e hijuelo
Marmorata Du-cual (zapoteco),pitzometl (náhuatl), maguey de caballo, curandero, tepeztate 2 m wide and 1.5 cm high Wavy and open, with horizontal lines on dark green Big Branched up to 6 m high April to June Seed
Potatorum Bilia, dob-bé, dob-lá, tobalá (zapoteco), papalometl (náhuatl: maguey mariposa), yauticushi (mixteco), maguey de monte 1 m wide and 70 cm high Oval, wavy margins, green to whitish Curves and dark Branched up to 4 m high September to December Seed
Maximiliana Lechuguilla, manso, tecolote 1 m wide and 80 cm high Lanceolate and broad, light green Large and small alternating Branched up to 8 m high January to May Seed
Lophanta Estoquillo, lechuguilla, mezortillo 80 cm wide and 50 cm high Narrow, thin, light green Small and grayish Small and grayish March to June Seed e hijuelo
Tequilana Tequila 3 m wide and 2 m high Narrow, flattened and straight, bluish Little Branched up to 5 m high May to July Hijuelo, bulbilo and culture of weaves