National Geographic : 1903 Apr
152 THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE From a photograph by E. H. Thompson A Field of Young Sisal Plants-Two Years Old the leaf is cleaned in the ancient method (see illustration on next page), and the makers of the finest hammocks, those worth their weight in silver, will not use a fiber produced by any other method. THE AGAVE PLANT The agave is one of the most char acteristic plants of Mexico. One of the family, the Agave americana, produces the pulque, the intoxicating drink of the country. Great fields are covered with this plant upon the Mexican table land, and long "pulque trains," like the milk trains of the United States, roll daily into Mexico city. This beverage is practically unknown to the inhabitants of Yucatan, and the variety that produces it is to be seen only as an exotic in the gardens and parks. Its place is taken by another member of the family, whose impor tance is more far-reaching. The Agave sisalensis furnishes a fiber that not only helps to knit firmer the commerce of the whole world, but binds the sheaves of wheat so that the price of bread in every land is made cheaper for its use. To the casual observer a field of the pulque plant and one of the fiber plant are very similar in appearance. Both show the same peculiar green, the same many-thorned leaves, but a nearer view soon shows the difference.