The Ditepalae, an informal taxonomic grouping recognized in the genus Agave L., currently consists of 12 species, most of which geographically straddle the border between the southern USA and Mexico. All of these species were used as sources of food, fibre and beverage, with some likely being transported to new habitats by migrating indigenous peoples. Of the 12 species of Ditepalae, Agave palmeri Engelm., appears to be of central biocultural importance as it has the widest distribution range. The taxonomy and affinities of this native of Arizona and New Mexico in the USA and Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico, are discussed; an amplified description and illustrations of its vegetative and reproductive morphological characters are included. The other members of the Ditepalae are discussed and a key is provided to all members of the group.
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Vol. 2010 • No. 28