A large, rosette succulent from northern South America, widely cultivated for fibre. Invasive throughout the Pacific Islands. In New Zealand, it is a naturalised garden escape; in semi-shade according to Healy and Edgar, 1980. The leaves are sword-shaped, 1-2 m long and 10-15 cm broad at their widest point, narrowing to 6-7 cm broad at the leaf base, and to a sharp spine tip at the apex; the margins are entire or with a few hooked spines. The flowers are greenish to creamy white, 4 cm long, and strongly scented; they are produced on a large inflorescence up to 7.5 m tall. It is cultivated in subtropical and tropical regions for its leaves, which are used to produce a fibre similar to sisal. A cultivar “Mediopicta” has variegated cream and pale green foliage. Tolerant of aqueous sprays of glyphosate.
Photo: Robert Whyte