Scientifc name: Agave sisalana. Indigenous sisal seedling.
English Name: Sisal
sisalana is native to Mexico and a tropical succulent perennial of 1.5–2 m height, with thick leaves in a basal rosette of elongated sword-shaped leaves from the base. The plant base is a short trunk (30–150 cm), from the top of which the spirally arranged leaves grow. It has Stiff, heavy, persistent leaves that are 0.6–1.2 m long, 10.2–20.3 cm wide, and 2.5–10.2 cm thick when mature. Leaves are spirally arranged around the trunk, greyish-green in colour and covered by a layer of wax. Leaves contain coarse, cream-coloured or pale-yellow fibres.
In Africa, extracts of A. sisalana leaves and leaf waste are used in traditional medicine as a fungicide. Sisal is a folk remedy for dysentery, leprosy sores, and syphilis. It is a source of hecogeninThe leaves contain hecogenin used in the partial synthesis of the drug cortisone.
It is cultivated as a source of fibre traditionally used in the production of twine, ropes, carpets, mattresses, and handicrafts. Flower stalk sap can be used to make beer and a brandy-like spirit.And the central buds are cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Leaf waste also has .been used as a material to produce bio-fuel (methane). Saisal fiber can be used to make spa and cosmetic products, cat scratching posts, lumbar support belts, rugs, slippers, and cloths.
Sisal leaf waste has been used profitably for cattle and rabbit feed. The succulence of fresh sisal waste makes it a useful feed during dry periods. This species is also used as “live fences” or as an ornamental plant in gardens. The leaf waste is used as fertilizer, animal feed.
A plant of the drier tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 27°c. but can tolerate 10 - 45°c It can be killed by temperatures of -5°c or lower. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 900 - 1,250mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,800mm. Requires a sunny position in a well-drained soil. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7.5, tolerating 5.5 – 8.