Agave lechuguilla Torr.
Agave lophantha Schiede var. poselgeri (Salm-Dyck) A. Berger
Agave poselgeri Salm-Dyck
Agave multilineata Baker
Agave heteracantha Hort.
Agave univittata var. tamaulipasana
Agave univittata var. subcanescens
Agave univittata var. gracilior
Agave univittata var. brevifolia
Agave univittata var. caerulescens
Agave univittata var. angustifolia
Agave lophantha var. tamaulipasana
Agave lophantha var. subcanescens
Agave lophantha var. poselgeri
Agave lophantha var. pallida
Agave lophantha var. caerulescens
Agave lophantha var. brevifolia
Agave lophantha var. angustifolia
Agave lophantha var. gracilior
Lechuguilla, Shin Dagger
Lechuguilla is a common North American native species. It is an indicator species of the Chihuahuan Desert. Indigenous cultures relied on this plant’s saponins to produce soap, as this 1922 report describes. This is a highly variable species, as is implied by the many past scientific names that have since been found to be the same species.
Identification: The leaf rosette is 10-18" (25-45 cm) tall and 16-27" (40-68 cm) around, composed of 8-60 leaves, but usually around 20. It often produces ”offsets”—new nearby plants. Leaves are thick, curved, and tipped with sharp spines (hence the name “shin dagger”). They have irregularly spaced teeth on the leaf edges. After about 30 years, the lechuguilla grows a stalk 6½-16' (2-5 m) high, blooms with red- or purple-shaded yellow flowers, and keels over dead. (This rather extreme approach to flowering is shared by most agaves.)
Edibility: Poisonous Several agents in lechuguilla make it unpalatable to people; but sheep, goats and sometimes cattle are poisoned when they attempt to eat it. This is easily avoided by making sure more desirable forage is available.
Agave lechuguilla on Desert-tropicals.com
Agave lechuguilla on Chihuahuan Desert Plants
Agave lechuguilla on explorenm.com
Agave lechuguilla on eFloras
Agave lechuguilla on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Agave lechuguilla description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.
Range: Zones 7-10: