Agave schottii

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Agave schottii
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Agave
Species: A. schottii
Binomial name
Agave schottii
  • Agave geminiflora var. sonorae Torr.
  • Agave mulfordiana Trel.
  • Agave schottii var. serrulata Mulford
  • Agave sonorae (Torr.) Mearns

Agave schottii, also known by the common name Schott's century plant, is a shrub species within the Agave genus. It is a member of the subgenus Littaea.[2] There are two widely recognized varieties of this species: Agave schotti var. schottii and Agave schottii var. treleasei.[3][4]


Agave schottii is native to North America. It is found in the United States of America, in the states of Arizona and New Mexico. In Arizona, it is confined to the southern part of the state, in the counties of Pima, Santa Cruz, Graham, and Cochise.[5] Agave schottii is found only in the southwestern tip of New Mexico, in Hidalgo County.[5] It is also found in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California.[5] Agave schottii var. treleasei has the status of Highly Safeguarded Native Plant and Salvage restricted, and is only found in Arizona's Pima County.[6]

Habitat and ecology[edit]

This species grows in arid regions at elevations from 1,100–2,000 meters (3,609–6,562 feet) on sunny, open, gentle rocky slopes or in small drainages in high desert scrub, grassland, and juniper and oak woodlands on gneiss substrate.[7] It grows on northern and eastern facing slopes where temperatures do not get very high compared to slopes with direct sunlight.[2]


Individuals of this species are flowering shrubs. The Agave schottii, like other Agave species, are succulents with a rosette of thick, blue-green, finger-like leaves with sharp spines on their tips. The Agave schottii is different from other Agave in that the leaves do not have spines on its edges, which makes it a member of the Agave subgenus Littaea.[2] Its leaves typically grow to a length of about 0.3 meters (0.98 feet). Because its height is about that of a human's shin, and because it has sharp, spiny leaves, this species has been given the common name "Shindagger." [8]

The leaf rosettes are monocarpic.[9] Its pale to bright yellow flowers are held on branches onto the stem.[10] The flowers are spicate inflorescences, tubular in shape, and about 8 mm by 4 mm (0.31 in by 0.16 in) in size.[10] Some members of this species, like the var. treleasei, have peniculate infloresences.[11] The flowers of Agave schottii produce a pleasant, sweet fragrance.[10]

The Agave schottii fruits are loculicidal capsules, which are dry fruits that split open to release seeds.[11]

Agave schottii is composed of steroidal sapogenins in its pulp. This makes up about 2% of its dry weight.[12]


Like most species in the Agave genus, this species has its flowers pollinated by many possible pollinators, such as bats, butterflies, moths, bumblebees, honeybees, and hummingbirds.[10]

The Agave schottii produces on average 1.6 µL of nectar per day.[10] This is generally considered a low amount of nectar produced for flowers that are pollinated by birds or insect. The Agave schottii does produce most of its nectar nocturnally, and does not contain much sugar, providing further evidence for pollination by bats.[10] However, the yellow flowers, sweet smell, and low protein concentration of the nectar, suggests it is pollinated by insects and/or birds.[10]


The Agave schottii is a clonal plant, meaning it has the ability to clone itself and produce genetically identical offspring vegetatively. This method of asexual reproduction is not favorable as it produces offspring with low heterozygosity, or low genetic diversity.[13] Experimentation shows that this plant favors outbreeding with an optimal range between 10 and 100 meters (33 feet and 330 feet). The greater the proximity of cross-breeders, the lower the genetic diversity. When the range of cross-breeders exceeds the optimal range, the plant risks breeding with a member of its species too unlike itself. Agave schottii proves to be a good model to observe this type of outcrossing.[13]


Agave plants, in general, have many uses, including: as a sweetener, to create tequila, and as an antibiotic.[14]

Agave schottii, in particular, has a very bitter taste. Thus, it is not suitable as a food for people or cattle.[15] The bitter taste comes from its steroidal sapogenin properties, which makes it usable as a soap. Agave schottii soap is called "amole", "maguey," and "amolillo" by Spanish-speaking people in the area of the plant's habitat, and by native peoples, like the Seri.[2] The Seri people also call Agave schottii "ikapanniim," which means to 'wash hair with.' They use it as a shampoo to clean, soften, and grow hair, as well as wash clothing.[2]

The sapogenin in Agave schottii is being researched for its potential role in anti-cancer treatments.[16]


  1. ^ The Plant List, Agave schottii
  2. ^ a b c d e Felger, Richard; Moser, Mary B. (April 1970). "Seri use of the Agave (Century Plant)". Kiva. 35 (4): 159–167.
  3. ^ Flora of North America, vol26 p 447.
  4. ^ Engelmann, Georg. Transactions of the Academy of Science of St. Louis 3: 306–307. 1875.
  5. ^ a b c USDA, NRCS. "Plants Profile: Agave schottii Engelm. Schott's century plant". National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  6. ^ USDA, NRCS. "Plants Profile: Agave schottii Engelm. var. treleasei (Toumey) Kearney & Peebles Trelease's century plant".
  7. ^ Center for Plant Conservation. "Agave schottii var. treleasei". CPC National Collection Plant Profile. Archived from the original on 26 October 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  8. ^ Plant Sciences Center of Sierra Vista, Arizona. "Agave schottii". Archived from the original on 25 July 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  9. ^ Faucon, Phillipe (2004). "Schott's Century Plant, Shindagger". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Schaffer, William M.; Schaffer, M. Valentine (June 3, 1977). "The reproductive biology of Agavaceae: I. Pollen and nectar production in four Arizona Agaves". The Southwestern Naturalist. 22 (2): 157–168. doi:10.2307/3669806. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Agave schottii Engelmann". Flora of North America. 26: 444, 447. 1875. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  12. ^ Nobel, Park. S. (1988). Environmental biology of Agaves and cacti. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 9.
  13. ^ a b Trame, Anne-Marie; Coddington, Amy J.; Paige, Ken N. (April 18, 1995). "Field and genetic studies testing optimal outcrossing in Agave schottii, a long-lived clonal plant". Oecologia. 104: 93–100. doi:10.1007/bf00365567.
  14. ^ DuHamel, Jonathan (December 21, 2011). "Agave, a plant of many uses". Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  15. ^ Gentry, Howard Scott (1982). Agaves of Continental North America. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press. pp. 207–208. ISBN 0816507759.
  16. ^ Bianchi, E.; Cole, J. R. (September 17, 2006). "Antitumor agents from agave schottii(amaryllidaceae)". Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 58 (5): 589–591. doi:10.1002/jps.2600580516.