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Products > Agave tequilana var. azul
 
Agave tequilana var. azul - Weber's Blue Tequila Agave
   
Image of Agave tequilana var. azul
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Agavaceae (now Asparagaceae)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Green
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [Agave angustifolia subsp. tequilana]
Height: 4-5 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Agave tequilana var. azul (Weber's Blue Agave) - A fast growing agave that grows to 5 feet tall and wide with 3 to 4 foot long narrow leaves of a beautiful shade of blue gray with a brown sharp terminal spine and margin teeth. It sends out pups, both near the plant's base and several feet away on rhizomes so give this plant some room.

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate very little. This plant needs to be grown where temperatures do not drop below 25°F or even below 27°F for extended periods so it is likely limited to southern California coastal areas or the low desert.

This is the plant used as the base ingredient of the distilled spirit tequila in Mexico where it has been cultivated since before the Spanish arrived, but there is considerable confusion surrounding its proper name. It is commonly referred to as the Tequila Agave or Weber's Blue Agave but the botanical name Agave tequilana was given to this plant by the French botanist Frédéric Albert Constantin Weber, sometimes listed as F.A.C. Weber but also known as Dr. Albert Weber, who was classifying Mexican flora in the late 1890's and described Agave tequilana in 1902 in the French Publication “Bulletin du Muséum d'histoire naturelle” (8:220, Paris, 1902). Dr. Weber was part of a French military expedition to Mexico in the mid 1860's and is credited with the description of numerous plants from this trip. As Weber was the person who named and described the plant, it received the botanical name Agave tequilana Weber, with Weber's surname following the plants binomial name as the author citation. One issue with the author citation is that "Weber" was already used for other plants previously described by the German botanist Georg Heinrich Weber (1752-1828), so current treatment is to now cite this agave as Agave tequilana F.A.C.Weber.

At the time Dr. Albert Weber described this species there were four varieties deemed superior for mescal use: chato, siquin, azul and pata de mula and it was the azule (blue) cultivar that has become the preferred crop plant for the best tequila, though others are used as well. Since Weber described the species and not the varieties, the name is often listed as Agave tequilana Weber var. azul and confusingly this is the name that became recognized by the Tequila Regulatory Council and the name translated into English as "Weber's Blue", which created an unintended name and adds confusion with the legitimate botanical name of another plant Agave weberi that was named to honor Dr. Albert Weber and given to a plant in the Sisalanae group of the genuse, while Agave tequilana is in the Rigidae group.

Howard Scott Gentry, author of the agave bible, Agaves of Continental North America recognized that Agave tequilana was closely related or was a variant of the wide-ranging Agave angustifolia but never formally synonymized these two species. He admitted that Agave tequilana botanically belonged within this complex species, though distinguished it from Agave angustifolia by its larger leaves, thicker stems, and heavier, more diffuse panicles of relatively large flowers with tepals long in proportion to the relatively short tube.

The history of this plant certainly predates its formal botanical name as by the end of the 1700s, near the town of Tequila in the Mexican state of Jalisco, monocultures of Agave were selected which became the beginning of commercial Agave production in North America. Don Cenobio Sauza introduced tequila to the USA for the first time at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 (Academia Patrón, 2022). In the early 1900s, the French naturalist Leon Diguet published the first book describing the cultivation procedures for A. tequilana in the Tequila region (Diguet, 1910).

Today, several Mexican states and regions, with a variety of climatic and environmental conditions, have technical guides for cultivating Agave for tequila. Other products derived from this plant include aguamiel and pulque. It is considered a domesticated species without any wild populations known to exist. In Jalisco this plant is grown in well-drained soils at moderate altitudes of 4,500 feet or higher. 

This information about Agave tequilana var. azul displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.

 
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