|A blue agave plant (Agave tequilana) in Mexico|
Despite some other interesting aspects to the plant, what is perhaps its best-known characteristics is the aguamiel (aka "honey water") found in the plant's core. This liquid substance is very sweet and has been used for years in the plant's native range for folk remedies. When processed, the aguamiel is turned into agave nectar, which has lately been touted for its supposed health benefits. Despite claims that the syrupy sweetener is healthier than other forms of sugar and friendlier to diabetics, there isn't much evidence that agave nectar has any health advantages. Though blue agave appears to be one of the main sources of agave nectar, other agave species are also used.
|A core harvested for tequila making|
It's also true that without pollination by the long-nosed bat, there would be no new generations of blue agave to make into tequila. So, thank bats and thank the workers the next time you drink a little tequila. I, personally, cannot stand the stuff.
Sources are the University of Connecticut, Dave's Garden, Botanical Journeys Plant Guides, WebMD, USDA, and ITIS. Images are from Wikimedia Commons and are under Creative Commons licenses or copyright free: one, two, three.