Agave, Century Plant, Maguey
I was inspired by a YouTube video linked in the Learn More section below. It shows a Kichwa man harvesting fibers from agave. He is a master and makes it look easy. I assure you, I struggled and took far more than the 7 minutes he did in the video! But thankfully, I did my homework and did more research than watching one YouTube video. It seems the sap from A. americana can cause contact dermatitis. In fact the horror stories of people who took chainsaws to such plants abound. So I took precautions and wore rubber gloves during my fiber harvesting. Unfortunately I got some fresh sap (unbeknownst to me) on my sleeves and when I hiked up the sleeves, I ended up with that dermatitis. Not fun!
See the pictures below for the story of how I make rope from this plant.
Plants for a Future: Agave americana
Wikipedia: Agave americana
Dave's Garden: Agave americana
YouTube: Indigenous people of Ecuador harvesting agave fibers
Agave Rope Making:
This is the agave plant. See detail of spiny leaf tip. These pretty blue-green leaves also sport sharp thorns along the leaves. (Plant location: Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park)
After some scraping away of the fresh plant material, the long white fibers can be seen in the leaves. The fibers and their arrangement can also be seen in the cut edge of the leaf. Agave is an exceptional fiber plant.
Finished cord! Like to get an idea as to what this fiber is like? Sisal ropes are made from another species of agave (Agave sisalana) and should be relatively easy to find.