Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Agave americana
L., Asparagaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results: 

High risk, score: 12:  (Go to the risk assessment (Pacific)).
Reject, score: 14 (Go to the risk assessment (U.S. Florida)).

Common name(s): [more details]

Chamorro: maguey

Chinese: long she lan

English: American agave, American-aloe, century-plant, malina

French: agave d'Amérique, choca, pite

Spanish: cubuya negra, maguey, penco, pita común

Habit:  succulent

Description:  "Plants acaulescent or short-stemmed, commonly suckering, trunks less than 2 m; rosettes not cespitose, 10-20 x 20-37 dm. Leaves erect, spreading to ascending, occasionally reflexed, 80-200 x 15-25 cm; blade light green to green or glaucous-gray, sometimes variegated or cross-zoned, narrowly to broadly lanceolate, smooth, rigid; margins nearly straight or undulate to crenate, armed, teeth single, 5-10 mm, 1-4 cm apart; apical spine dark brown to grayish, conical or subulate, 2-6 cm. Scape 5-9 m. Inflorescences paniculate, not bulbiferous; bracts persistent, triangular, 5-15 cm; lateral branches 15-35, horizontal to slightly ascending, comprising distal 1/3-1/2 of inflorescence, longer than 10 cm. Flowers erect, 7-10.5 cm; perianth yellow, tube funnelform to cylindric, 8-20 x 12-20 mm, limb lobes erect, subequal, 20-35 mm; stamens long-exserted; filaments inserted above mid perianth tube, erect, yellow, 6-9 cm; anthers yellow, 25-35 mm; ovary 3-4.5 cm, neck constricted, 3-6(-8) mm. Capsules short-pedicellate, oblong, 3.5-8 cm, apex beaked. Seeds 6-8 mm"  (Flora of North America).

"Stout, succulent, rhizomatous perennial, with leaves in a basal rosette. Rigid, leathery, hairless, fleshy leaves (1-2 m x 15 cm) are triangular in cross section, with margins lined with raised, coarse 5 mm teeth 4 cm apart, and tipped with a conical, hard spine (25 mm long). Flowering stems, which are 7-10 m tall and produced rapidly at maturity (after 10-15 years), are candelabra-like clusters of many yellow flowers borne on branches off the main stem which are followed by seed capsules containing black seeds (5 cm long). After flowering the basal rosette dies and is replaced by several small lateral rosettes (daughters)"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

Description from the Flora of China online.

Habitat/ecology:  "Moving and consolidated sand, cliffs, estuarine and other coastal areas, cliffs, bluffs, rocky areas, and inshore islands. Tolerates extreme drought, wind, salt, high temperatures, poor soil and low fertility, recovers from damage and is not grazed by stock, is long-lived and has no known parasites. It is taller than other plants in the habitat. New daughter plants are formed via short rhizomes, and succulent leaves resprout from fragments"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).  "Coastal bluffs and cliffs, dunes, rocky places, savanna, disturbed sites"  (Weber, 2003; p. 26).  Subtropical to warm-temperate regions in its native habitat. In Fiji, "cultivated from sea level to about 250 m" (Smith, 1979; p. 154). In New Caledonia, "existe aujourd'hui dans des fourrés secondaires sans être très envahissant" (MacKee, 1994; p. 12).

Propagation:  "Daughter plants, seed and stem fragments are carried to new sites by ocean tides, by deliberate plantings, soil movement especially down banks, dumped vegetation, and naturally as garden escapes"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

Native range:  United States (Texas) and Mexico (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Pacific offshore islands)
Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island introduced
invasive
Orchard, Anthony E., ed. (1994) (p. 21)
"A garden escape now propagating itself by suckers". Voucher cited: J.G. Conran 628 (K, NSW)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (pp. 472, 518, 550)
"En RC, está presente a orillas del Fuerte Santa Bárbara y en algunos jardines del pueblo de San Juan Bautista, donde se encuentra bien establecida y se reproduce mucho. Esta especie debe ser vigilada muy de cerca y mejor vale conteneria que dejaria abandonada".
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Pagan Island introduced
cultivated
Fosberg, F. R./Falanruw, M. V. C./Sachet, M.-H. (1975) (p. 18)
Persisting from planting.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (US)
Northern Mariana Islands
Pagan Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1954) (voucher ID: BISH 596152)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave americana Linnaeus
Cook Islands
Cook Islands
Cook Islands cultivated
McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Isabela Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Observed in survey, no herbarium record.
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
San Cristóbal Group
San Cristóbal Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island introduced
cultivated
Charles Darwin Foundation (2008)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island introduced
cultivated
Smith, Albert C. (1979) (p. 154)
Voucher cited: DA 16753
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1969) (voucher ID: BISH 34102)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave americana Linnaeus
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1969) (voucher ID: BISH 699211)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave americana Linnaeus
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island   Bishop Museum (Honolulu) (1969) (voucher ID: BISH 699212)
Taxon name on voucher: Agave americana Linnaeus
French Polynesia
French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands   Waterhouse, D. F. (1997) (p. 59)
French Polynesia
Marquesas Islands
Nuku Hiva (Nukahiva) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R. (1997) (p. 64)
French Polynesia
Society Islands
Tahiti Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Tuamotu Archipelago
Makatea (Ma‘atea) Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
French Polynesia
Austral (Tubuai) Islands
Rurutu Island introduced
cultivated
Florence, J./Chevillotte, H./Ollier, C./Meyer, J.-Y. (2013)
Cultivée
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
cultivated
Stone, Benjamin C. (1970) (p. 130)
Guam
Guam Island
Guam Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Oliver, Royce (1987) (p. 99)
Japan (offshore islands)
Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands
Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands introduced
invasive
Toyoda, Takeshi (2003) (p. 291)
Naturalized
Japan (offshore islands)
Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands
Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands introduced
Kato, Hidetoshi (2007)
Kiribati
Tungaru (Gilbert) Islands
Tarawa Atoll   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 88)
Presence not verified
Nauru
Nauru Island
Nauru Island introduced
cultivated
Thaman, R. R./Fosberg, F. R./Manner, H. I./Hassall, D. C. (1994) (p. 53)
Voucher cited: Thaman & Manner 68 (SUVA)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 88)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 12)
Vouchers cited: MacKee 15051, MacKee 24783
Spontané
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Angaur (Ngeaur) Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (p. 88)
Agave sp.
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Babeldaob Island introduced
invasive
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (p. 84)
Agave sp.
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Koror (Oreor) Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (p. 79)
Agave sp.
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Ngercheu Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (p. 92)
(Carp Resort) Agave sp.
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Ngerkebesang Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (p. 79)
Agave sp.
Palau
Palau (Belau ) (main island group)
Peleliu (Beliliou) Island introduced
cultivated
Space, James C./Waterhouse, Barbara/Miles, Joel E./Tiobech, Joseph/Rengulbai, Kashgar (2003) (p. 90)
Papua New Guinea
Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago introduced
cultivated
Peekel, P. G. [translated by E. E. Henty] (1984) (p. 91)
Tonga
Tonga Islands
Tonga Islands   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 88)
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna (Horne) Islands
Wallis (‘Uvea) Island introduced
cultivated
Meyer, Jean-Yves (2007) (p. 25)
Agave cf. americana
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
Weber, Ewald (2003) (p. 26)
Australia
Australia (continental)
New South Wales introduced
invasive
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Naturalized
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Queensland Herbarium (2002) (p. 1)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Widely cultivated. Naturalized in S. China.
China
China
Hong Kong introduced
cultivated
Wu, Te-lin (2001) (p. 365)
Japan
Japan
Japan (country) introduced
Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro (2004) (p. 191)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Healy, A. J./Edgar, E. (1980) (p. 66)
Voucher cited: W.R.B. Oliver, Feb., 1942 (WELT)
Garden outcast
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 10)
Cultivated only
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
La Réunion (France)
La Réunion Island
La Réunion Island introduced
cultivated
Lavergne, Christophe (2006)
"Cultivé"
Seychelles
Seychelles Islands
Agalega Island introduced
Fosberg, F. R./Sachet, Marie-Hélène/Stoddart, D. R. (1983) (p. 126)
Also reported from
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
United States (continental except west coast)
United States (other states)
United States (other states) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Texas

Comments:  Also reported invasive in the Canary Islands.

Control:  "Dropped leaf fragments resprout and daughter plants are occasionally missed.  Exclude livestock permanently from sites. Always kill plants before they seed, i.e. before flowers appear on tall flowering stem. Follow up on sites at least annually.

Physical:  Dig out small plants (all year round). Dispose of all pieces at a refuse transfer station.

Chemical:  1. Stem inject: 4-10 jabs (depending on size of plant) of 5 ml undiluted glyphosate. Leave to rot on site. 
2. Cut and squirt: slash 4-10 lengthwise cuts (depending on size of plant) and apply 5 ml undiluted glyphosate to each cut. Leave to rot on site. 
3. Bore: pour 1 part Tordon Gold to 5 parts water into augured holes in each leaf.
4. Cut down and paint stump: cut at ground level, apply (200ml/L) glyphosate to stump, and dispose of leaves at a refuse transfer station"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 1 JAN 1999 and was last updated on 19 FEB 2013.