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Botanical Sciences

versión On-line ISSN 2007-4476versión impresa ISSN 2007-4298


VAZQUEZ-PEREZ, Nancy et al. Traditional knowledge and management of Agave karwinskii in southern Mexico. Bot. sci [online]. 2020, vol.98, n.2, pp.328-347.  Epub 03-Sep-2020. ISSN 2007-4476.


The intensity of management in plants is explained by socio-ecological factors, highlighting the economic value and the spatial availability of resources. Agave karwinskii is a culturally, economically, and ecologically relevant resource, with high morphological diversity, which is reflected in the complex traditional nomenclature. Some ethnotaxons are mostly valued and it faces strong pressures due to the boom in demand for mescal.

Question / Hypothesis:

Which are the ethnotaxa of Agave karwinskii and with what intensity are they managed in the area of distribution of the species? Ethnotaxa that are used to produce mescal will present more intense forms of management due to their high value and demand. A broad spectrum of management practices will be identified, from the most incipient to the most complex, depending on their value and availability.

Studied species:

Agave karwinskii Zucc.

Study site and years of study:

Puebla and Oaxaca, Mexico. 2017-2018


43 semi-structured interviews were conducted with owners of mescal factories in the distribution area. We asked about the management of different ethnotaxa, selection practices, morpho-physiological attributes, cultural and economic value of varieties. A management intensity index was calculated performing a principal component analysis.


Eleven ethnotaxa of A. karwinskii were recognized, mainly used to produce mescal. These ethnotaxa formed three groups, corresponding to a gradient of management intensity, highlight those that have vegetative propagation and are sown by seeds in human-made areas.


The existence of selective processes is noted, which can mark features of incipient domestication, such as larger rosette sizes.

Palabras llave : Agroforestry systems; incipient domestication; in situ conservation; mescal.

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