AGAVACEAE (Agave Family, Century
Plants herbaceous or apparently shrubby.
Vegetative stems reduced (arborescent elsewhere), sometimes appearing woody at
the base. Leaves evergreen, leathery or somewhat fleshy, parallel-veined,
sometimes spine-tipped or with fibrous margins. Inflorescences short- to
long-stalked panicles, spikes, or racemes (scapes), often densely flowered.
Flowers usually actinomorphic, perfect. Tepals petaloid, in 2 whorls of 3,
sometimes fused below. Stamens 6. Carpels 3, fused, the ovary superior or
inferior. Fruits capsules with 3 or 6 locules. Seeds numerous, flattened,
usually black. Twenty genera, 600 species, worldwide, especially in seasonally
Genera of Agavaceae traditionally have been
placed into the Liliaceae or Amaryllidaceae. See the family treatment of the
Liliaceae for a discussion of the family limits in this group.