Wednesday, 11 July 2012

What's in a name?

Mauritius-hemp or Balinese Agave. It answers to both.

Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' is a succulent and originates from Central America. So it’s not from Mauritius and it’s not hemp. Neither is it from Bali and it’s not really an agave although the leaves are somewhat similar.
They are related to the Agaves (cousins) and they look like they belong in Balinese-type gardens, plus Balinese agave is much easier to pronounce than it's real name.
I couldn’t find any connection with Mauritius but the leaves of Furcraea foetida can apparently produce sisal (twine) somewhat similar to hemp twine.

Whatever you call it, this is a spectacular plant. I know it enjoys our sub-tropical climate, but with a little research I found it‘s also recommended for desert gardens.

It will tolerate heat. It’s frost hardy to -7C (according to the experts) and it’s not fussy whether it gets a little or a lot of water. Nothing seems to worry it. There are no spikes or barbs like some agaves. It’s fast growing and each year or so produces one or two pups. We started with one and now have three. - My kind of plant.
But (there's always a but) you will need a lot of space. They will grow to about 3m diameter.

This one is in our local botanical garden and towers above me.


  1. It would be impossible not to notice when they flower! They certainly look like they would be spiky. Isn't it funny how many different names a plant can have. I suppose that is why we should stick to the botanical names.

  2. Hi Missy, it's good the malware is now gone as I am already allowed to open your site! In a technopark i pass by every morning, most of the plants in their landscaping are agave and cycas. They flowered almost simultaneously last year and it was a wonderful sight. It was a long stretch of the road and i always get a stiff neck every morning watching it.

  3. Although not hardy here, that Furcraea is still a desirable plant here for a pot for display during the summer months. Lovely!

  4. Missy, that is one incredible plant! Of course, we cannot grow anything like that here due to the cold weather but what a sight to behold from afar.

    Your grandchildren are adorable, what a fun visit that must have been. So glad someone has gotten some rain, I can't tell you how refreshed I felt after seeing your healthy seedlings.

    We're still waiting for some rain, and there's a slim chance tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see. I so enjoyed my visit to your garden!

  5. It is always a delight to see colorful gardens so very different than mine. Yours is beautiful.


I would love to know what you think and appreciate your comments.


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