The agave stalk of the agave cactus is a long, straight, pointed part of the plant. It erupts from the center of the agave plant. As the plant matures, flowers eventually blossom along the sides of the agave stalk. A few rules of thumb: wear gloves to prevent a rash and do not use a chainsaw to cut down the stalk. The agave stalk contains protective agents that, when exposed to human skin, causes irritation, and the stalk is also highly fibrous. This creates a danger when using a chainsaw to cut down the plant, when a machete will do the trick quite nicely.

What To Do With Agave Stalk?

There are many different types of agave growing in the wild and in nurseries, and the agave stalk is highly intriguing to owners of the plant. There is a huge range in sizes of this plant. Maybe you are growing a Dwarf Hedgehog Agave, which is one of the smaller varieties growing at a maximum height of 50 centimeters and with an agave stalk of up to two feet. Perhaps you have the Blue Agave plant that is typical of Tequila, Mexico, with leaves growing up to 7 feet in height. Both of these plants produce the typical agave stalk that you can use for many purposes, ranging from ornamental to edible.

When dealing with an agave plant, there is one thing to keep in mind first and foremost. The plant has sharp pointed leaves that are meant to protect the agave plant from predators, including humans. You can easily brush against an agave plant’s leaves and come away with more than just a scratch though. The plant also has irritants in the sap that can cause a rash.

The combination of sharp tipped leaves and oozing sap that gets into a new cut from the plant will easily send you to the emergency room for treating a skin rash that looks like poison oak. Before you do anything with an agave stalk, make sure to use precautions. This starts with wearing thick rubber gloves or gardening gloves that cover your hands and arms, as the agave plant tends to be larger than other plants.

The agave stalk is the remaining part of the plant after the single flower of the plant has blossomed. This happens only once in the agave plant’s lifetime, and once the flower has died, so will the agave plant. Therefore, finding a purpose for the agave stalk after the plant is dead is important. You can propagate the plant using offshoots from the stalk at the crown root of the plant. Additionally, the stalk can be processed to provide for a number of profitable uses. The uses of an agave stalk can be divided into three categories:

  • Decorative agave ideas
  • Edible agave uses
  • Functional purposes for agave

Let’s take a closer look at these types of ways you can use an agave stalk.

What Can You Do With Agave Stalk?

Decorative ideas for using agave stalks include landscaping using potted arrangements. The flowering stalk can be dried, and then used for an ornamental in an arrangement under an awning or porch covered area. Smaller agave plants featuring a more manageable stalk size can be harvested and dried for potted plant arrangements.

The flowers on an agave plant range from yellow to red and purple, giving a striking display. The agave stalk looks like a large asparagus or the stalk of Brussels sprouts, and is on the top of a core that is a combination of green and white when fresh. Keep in mind the agave plant generally flowers in the summer season, no matter if it is a one-year-old or 50-year-old plant. This can help you to plan how you are going to use your stalk if you have a maturing agave plant that is ready to bloom.

Edible uses for agave stalks include harvesting the stalk before the flowering stage. The premature stalk can be roasted and cooked down to an edible food product that tastes like molasses. If you are worried about how tough a 75-year-old agave plant can be when eating, don’t be. It is reported to be one of the few plants that improves with age. Jesuit missionaries would eat the native agave plants in the 1700s and wrote down tips for choosing the best ways to enjoy the plant’s flowers, leaves, and stalks.

The agave heart is also easy to roast and looks like giant pinecones recently charred in a white fire. Along with tasting of molasses, the Yavapai and Apachepeople of the US report the agave heart is similar to sweet potato and pineapple in texture and flavor. Other sources say the asparagus looking shoot tastes like jicama and can be eaten raw.

When working with fresh agave stalk, keep in mind that there is agave syrup or nectar that is gathered from the pina or core of the plant. This syrup is traditionally famous for its use in tequila distillation. However, vegan and vegetarian dieters who do not eat honey made by bees have made agave a popular sweetener globally. Can you get agave syrup out of an agave stalk? Yes, sort of, but it starts by harvesting the stalk, also called the heart, right after the plant has bloomed.

When the agave plant has blossomed, it is at its peak ripeness and the stalk or heart is ready for removal, since the plant is dying. When you peel away the leaves of the agave plant to reveal the stalk in the center, which will be filled with nectar. You can start to see nectar in the crown of the agave plant when you remove the white stalk.

You want to collect this seeping liquid as this is the prized agave syrup of the plant coming back down from the leaves into the now missing stalk. One way to do this is with a rubber hose that is used to siphon the puddling syrup into a collecting container using the force of gravity. Please note that it is toxic to drink raw agave nectar that has not been cooked. The raw agave juice contains calcium oxalates rawhides that lead to contact dermatitis. Avoid getting the plant juice on your lips or in your mouth as you will likely incur a rash.

Functional purposes for agave stalk depend on the fiber of the plant. When the leaves are removed or burned away, the remaining fiber from the agave stalk is highly prized for its rope making abilities. The stalk is often 20 feet in length for a mature agave plant, such as the American Century Agave. This produces a lot of continuous length fiber that is ready to bind and twist into a strong and commercially apt rope.

Agave cactus stalks have also been used for making surfboards. The San Diego Botanic Garden Agave Board Project involves using Mexican agave stalks, as well as US and South American sourced agave plants. The long stalks that measure up to 20 feet are dried and cut to form gray-hued wood surfboards. Other parts, including rails, fins, and stringers on surfboards are also made from agave stalk wood. These look just like any commercial surfboard you can buy in shops and see them being carried to go surfing in the ocean.

Another functional purpose of the agave stalk involves sustainability, Jose Cuervo, and Ford Motor Company. The two companies joined forces in 2016 to use the remaining agave fibers from harvested plants that are roasted as biomaterials. These biomaterials may become another one of eight existing sustainable materials that Ford Motor Company uses in their lines of vehicles. Other materials already in production include wheat straw and cellulose, for example.

If you are dealing with a dried out agave stalk at home that is past its prime for eating, consider using it for mulch and fertilizer. When processed down into mulch, the fibrous material is a great insulator and water absorber. You are able to protect your plant beds from freezing temperatures and aid in regenerating the nutrients in the soil.

Should I Cut Agave Stalk?

For agave plant owners, cutting down the main vein of the plant is death for the plant. Yet this is also where the highest value of the agave plant is for a person. You are able to process the stalk to eat it or to use it for fiber rather than letting it go to waste. The truth is, the agave plant is going to die at some point, so you might as well get the most good out of it before it does. This comes with cutting the agave stalk right after the cactus flowers. The agave plant will die once it blooms, so as soon as you see the signal of a brilliantly blossoming stalk, it is time to give the plant the chop.

You stand to gain the fresh fruits from the plant, which it only produces once in its lifetime. Like a tortoise, the agave plant lives a long time before it can flower. Most agave plants will flower when they are six to eight years old. Therefore, when you have this golden opportunity to harvest this rare flower on a stalk worth its weight in fiber, you should do so.

Can You Cut an Agave Stem and Replant It?

The agave stalk is one of those plants that can be replanted, but you need to do some plant maintenance first to ensure proper propagation of the plant species. The trick is to allow the cut stem to heal after you cut it. Let the stalk dry out for a week after cutting from an agave crown. This gives the cut end time to seal, and according to Succulents Addiction, it also allows you to see when new roots start to shoot out.

How Do You Cut Agave Stalk?

The traditional method of managing an agave plant and cutting down the stalk is with a sharp machete. As this plant is endemic to South America and Mexico, where machetes are the standard tool of the field, you are more likely to find the right tools for the job in these areas. However, you should be able to find a machete in the US that is suitable for cutting down an agave stalk.

That being said, there are tools you should avoid when cutting agave stalks. Do not use a chainsaw as this can damage the chainsaw and make it dangerous for you. The chainsaw blade is too powerful for the plant material, and there is also the irritating ooze that is contained within the raw agave juice. If you use a chainsaw and spray raw agave nectar on your skin or eyes, this may lead you straight to the emergency room.

Once you have processed the agave stalk out of the crown of the plant, and you allow it to dry for one week and stabilize the raw agave juice, you are ready to break it down further. Here you can use an axe or a hand saw, or maybe a butcher knife. Use gloves to prevent rashes.

Author

My name is Dan and I am the owner of this blog. I have been tending to the garden ever since my parents moved to a home with a large garden when I was a teenager. Gardening takes time and patience. Let me show you the way to a beautiful backyard.