Agaves of Continental North America
This is an indispensable guide to agaves. The uses of agaves are as many as the arts of man have found it convenient to devise. At least two races of man have invaded Agaveland during the last ten to fifteen thousand years, where, with the help of agaves, they contrived several successive civilizations. The region of greatest use development is Mesoamerica. Here the great genetic diversity in a genus rich in use potential came into the hands of several peoples who developed the main agricultural center of the Americas. Perhaps, as the Aztec legends suggest, it was the animals that first showed man the edibility of agave. Evolution in use ranges all the way from the coincidental and spurious, through tool and food-drink subsistence with mystical overlay, to the practical specialties of modem industry and art. The historic period of agave will be outlined here as briefly as that complicated development will allow.
"Based on twenty-five years of research on the genus Agave, this book combines an authoritative taxonomic treatment and extensive ethnobotanical information with an attractive, readable text. . . . Gentry has gathered together enough material on agave taxonomy, distribution, ethnobotany and cultivation to make two or three books and presented it in an informative and engaging fashion."—Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science
"A total of 136 species (197 taxa) are carefully described [with] detailed notes on their native habitat and economic usages, all of which is presented in a most readable manner. It is a book to browse through and enjoy."—Journal of Arid Environments
"Professional taxonomists will need the book for the 23 new taxa and 13 changes in taxonomic status that are described. Field biologists can rejoice in the regional keys and easily discernible key characters."—Quarterly Review of Biology
"Because of the importance of agaves in desert gardening throughout the world, many gardeners will find this book a much needed guide through what has until now been a most confusing complex of species and varieties."—American Horticulturalist
"It is a publication which all serious collectors of succulent plant books must have, and will clearly become a classic reference book on this neglected genus."—British Cactus and Succulent Journal