The Century Plant or Maguey (Agave americana) is an agave originally from Mexico but cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant. It has since naturalised in many regions and grows wild in Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Cultivated varieties include the 'Marginata' with yellow stripes along the margins of each leaf, 'Medio-picta' with a central white band, 'Striata' with multiple yellow to white stripes along the leaves, and 'Variegata' with white edges on the leaves.
If the flower stem is cut without flowering, a sweet liquid called agua miel ("honey water") gathers in the heart of the plant. This may be fermented to produce the drink called pulque, which may then be distilled to produce mezcal. The leaves also yield fibers, known as pita, which are suitable for making rope, matting, coarse cloth and are used for embroidery of leather in a technique known as piteado. Both pulque and maguey fibre were important to the economy of pre-Columbian Mexico. Production continues today to a much lesser extent. Agave syrup (also called agave nectar) has recently been marketed as a healthful natural sugar substitute.