Agave nectar (also called agave syrup) is a sweetener commercially produced from several species of agave, including Agave tequilana (blue agave) and (Agave salmiana). Agave nectar is sweeter than honey and tends to be thinner and flow more freely than honey. Most agave nectar comes from Mexico and South Africa.
One of the most familiar species is Agave americana, a native of tropical America. Common names include century plant, maguey (in Mexico), or American aloe (it is not, however, closely related to the genus Aloe). The name “century plant” refers to the long time the plant takes to flower. The number of years before flowering occurs depends on the vigor of the individual plant, the richness of the soil, and the climate; during these years the plant is storing in its fleshy leaves the nourishment required for the effort of flowering.
Agave americana, century plant, was introduced into Europe about the middle of the 16th century, and is now widely cultivated as an ornamental; in the variegated forms, the leaf has a white or yellow marginal or central stripe. As the leaves unfold from the center of the rosette, the impression of the marginal spines is conspicuous on the still erect younger leaves. The plants require protection from frost. They mature very slowly and die after flowering, but are easily propagated by the offsets from the base of the stem.
Blue A. americana occurs in abundance in the Karoo, and arid highland regions of South Africa. Introduced by the British settlers in 1820, the plant was originally cultivated and used as emergency feed for livestock. Today it is used mainly for the production of syrup and sugar.
Agave (pron.: /əˈɡɑːveɪ/ or /əˈɡeɪviː/) is a genus of monocots. The plants are perennial, but each rosette flowers once and then dies (see semelparity). Some species are known by the name century plant.