They are everywhere. Spiky, dramatic, drought tolerant and full of acidic sap. Potential danger to an untrained eye but a true one stop shop for survivalists. Native tribes of Mexico used agave not only to distill mezcal from it – flowers, leaves, base of the plant and sap are edible (after lengthy boiling or roasting) and some parts of it have medicinal uses. Nails and needles were made from agave spikes while fibers were used for weaving.
I started reading “Survival Skills of Native California” by Paul D. Campbell and had to try derive some fibers from the amazing maguey plant.
I’ve done it last year and found agave “string” great for binding trellises, helping plants, weaving, making cords and tying herbs both for drying and soups. This year I decided to get myself a big one and attacked it with a serrated knife. I was averting my eyes most of the time as the sap can render a person blind. It also gives you a nasty rash.
The leaf i picked was about 2m long and I needed a sledge hammer to fit it into a pot. After about 1 hour cooking, I took the fibers out, pounded and cleaned them. Some of it can be seen on a youtube video taken by my friend Annora. Fibers were then hanged on the line to dry. They’ll be used for tying herbs and weaving.