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Manfreda Salisb.

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Genus Parent: Agavaceae Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • FALSE ALOE - English, United States of America
  • AMERICAN-ALOE - English, United States of America
  • TUBE-ROSE - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Diagnosis: Glabrous +/- scapose perennials with rhizomes; leaves mostly in a basal rosette, soft, thick-herbaceous, somewhat fleshy (semisucculent to succulent), entire to serrulate, and spotted, blotched, or mottled with darker green, brown, or reddish brown or not so; flowers in a spikelike raceme, nocturnal; perianth tubular-funnelform, 6-parted, greenish to greenish white or yellowish, sometimes streaked or dotted with pink or brown, sometimes aging to deep rose, purple, or nearly brown; stamens 6; filaments inserted on perianth tube, exserted; anthers linear, versatile (= attached near middle); styles exserted; capsules 3-celled; seeds numerous, flattened.


Notes: A genus of 26 species occurring principally in Mexico but ranging from the se United States to Honduras and El Salvador (Verhoek 1998, 2002; Eguiarte et al. 2000). The species have been variously recognized in Agave, Manfreda, and Polianthes, and these three genera are all closely related (Eguiarte et al. 2000). The rhizomes of a number of species apparently contain sudsproducing sapogenins and have long been used as a source of soap (Verhoek 1978b). Even well into the 20th century (e.g., 1928), the soap, known as “amole soap,” was available in TX stores, and small Mexican settlements still used Manfreda species to produce liquid soap in a traditional manner (Schulz 1928; Verhoek 1978b). Other species have been used medicinally (see below) or cultivated as ornamentals. “At anther maturity, the style is shorter than the filaments, or bent downward away from the anthers. By stigma maturity on the third day, the style has elongated (and straightened)” (Verhoek 2002). This is presumably a mechanism to prevent selffertilization. (Named for Manfredus de Monte Imperiale, fourteenth-century Italian writer on medical simples—Verhoek 2002)