Blue agave

Native to the arid highlands of Mexico, blue agave is a fleshy succulent that is grown commercially in Mexico as the base ingredient for tequila. Recently, blue agave has also been suggested as a potential source of ethanol (biofuel).

Blue agave is a common garden plant in Queensland but has not been recorded in the wild here. However, some closely related species are invasive. For this reason, blue agave has been identified as a weed, though a relatively low risk one.

Blue agave is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Agave tequilana

Description

  • Large rosette of thick, fleshy leaves that grows over 2m tall.
  • Each leaf ends in sharp point.

Habitat

  • Prefers sandy soils in arid and semi-arid subtropical areas.

Distribution

  • No wild populations known to exist in Queensland, but is common in gardens.

Life cycle

  • Each plant is monocarpic, flowering only once (at about 5 years).
  • During flowering, a 'mast' (stem) up to 5m grows from plant's centre and bears many tubular, yellow flowers.
  • Within its native range, blue agave is pollinated by a locally native bat (Leptonycteris nivalis), produces several thousand seeds per plant, then dies.
  • Agave species do not appear to produce seeds in Australia, perhaps due to absence of suitable pollinators. Reproduction of agave species in Australia is believed to be restricted to vegetative reproduction.
  • Specimens have been recorded living up to 50 years in gardens.

Impacts

  • No impacts at present in Queensland (potentially invasive).
  • However, 10 closely related species have naturalised in Queensland.

Control

  • Call 13 25 23 if you find a plant you suspect may be blue agave to seek advice on control options.

Legal requirements

  • Blue agave is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information