Discovery of four new species of agave in Mexico


One of them is present in indigenous codices, but had not been documented by science, reveal experts from UNAM

Four new species of agave were discovered recently by experts from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), one of them present in indigenous codices, but without being documented by science.

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These agavaceans are native to the south of the country, and there are copies of all of them in the Botanical Garden of the University, said Abisaí García, curator of the National Collection of Agaváceas and Nolináceas of the Biology Institute (IB).

In the journal Acta Botánica Mexicana, experts specified that Oaxaca is the state with the greatest diversity of agaves worldwide, having at least 40 species of the 159 endemic species that exist throughout the country. It is followed by Sonora, Durango and Jalisco.

However, Abisaí García warned of a possible risk to their survival, since with the increase in demand for mezcal, species that were not previously used are being used.

Agave quiotepecensis. / Photo: UNAM

Agave gypsicola. / Photo: UNAM

Agave megalodonta. / Photo: UNAM

Agave lyobaa. / Photo: UNAM

The four species are described as: A. gypsicola, A. megalodonta, A. lyobaa and Agave quiotepecensis, the latter endemic to Oaxaca and locally known as “lion’s tail”, this agave is peculiar because it is shown on the canvas of Quiotepec and Cuicatlan, and is part of the lunar glyph.


  • Like aloe, a species brought from Africa to the new world by the Spaniards, agave is used traditionally as a medicinal plant: for the control of diabetes and to cure blows by quickly restoring blood flow, among others.

Source El Sol de Tlaxcala

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