Origin: Mexico, occurs from southern Pueblo state down to central Oaxaca and Chiapas, and is quite variable. Habitat: Semi-arid highlands between 1200 and 2250 m Etymology: The specific name 'potatorum' has nothing to do with potatoes, it comes from the genitive of the Latin word 'potator' meaning 'of the drinkers' in reference to the use of this plant in making alcoholic beverages.
A. potatorum 'compact form' this is the more frequently seen form in cultivation, particularly priced for its small size. The leaves have distinct showy bud-imprints.
Description: A. potatorum is a small Agave, growing solitary or slowly clumping, that forms an compact to open symmetrical succulent rosette. It is a very polymorphic species with a large range of variability and the size of the plant from different population and the clones on the market are quite variable and may be anywhere between 10 and 90 cm in diameter when fully grown-up. Cultivation: Agave potatorum is a relatively easy-to-grow species, though not as cold-hardy as many of the more northerly-occurring species (Winter hardy to around -3° C degrees). Suited for light shade to full sun, but better with some shade in summer. It needs a very well-drained, soil. It grows fairly fast in summer if provided with copious water, but allow to dry thoroughly before watering again (the more water and fertilizer this plant gets, the faster it will grow). During the winter months, one should only water enough to keep the leaves from shrivelling. It does great in containers or in the ground. Plants cultivated outdoors are more drought tolerant and can take some heat and full sun. Remove eventual suckers to show the beauty and form of the individual rosette.
Agave potatorum is is used in Mexico for making 'pulque” the Mexican wine. In Sonora (Mexico) the hearts (central part of the rosettes and base of leaves) are placed in subterranean ovens and the resulting fermented juice is distilled to make a a spirit called Bacanora.