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| Lechuguilla, Soapbush, Lecheguilla, Shin Dagger|
Agave lechuguilla (A. lecheguilla)
Lechuguilla is an indicator plant of the Chihuahuan desert, which means its presence indicates the limits of the desert. It suckers prolifically, the offshoots sometimes making clumps several feet across. Lechuguilla (sometimes misspelled "lecheguilla") is abundant on gravelly limestone and caliche hills throughout the Trans-Pecos. Its narrow, light- to yellow-green leaves have distinctive down-slanted teeth on straight margins. The flower stalk can rise to 13 feet, with short branches bearing yellow, reddish and purplish flowers. Lechuguilla is useful for erosion control and could serve as a ground cover in the southern half of the state (it is cold hardy to 15 degrees F). Its leaves have been used to produce fiber, and they reportedly contain significant amounts of the steroidal precursor, smilogenin. It is poisonous to livestock.
Plant Habit or Use: small shrub
Flower Color: yellow, sometimes tinged with red or purple
Blooming Period: summer
Fruit Characteristics: capsule
Height: 1 to 2 feet / to 13 feet with flower
Width: 2 to 3 feet
Plant Character: evergreen
Heat Tolerance: very high
Soil Requirements: alkaline