Family • Agavaceae - Agave sisalana Perrine - SISAL HEMP

Scientific names

Agave sisalana Perrine
Agave rigida var. sisalana

Common names

Hemp plant (Engl.)
Sisal hemp (Engl.)


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Agave sisalana / Prelude Medicinal Plants Database

(2) Agave sisalana / Sigma-Aldrich / Plant Profiler

(3) Isolation and Immunomodulatory Effect of Homoisoflavones and Flavones from Agave sisalana Perrine ex Engelm / Pi Yu Chen et al / Molecules 2009, 14, 1789-1795; doi:10.3390/molecules14051789

(4) Ethnoveterinary medicine against poultry diseases in African villages / E F Gueye / World’s Poultry Science Journal, Vol. 55, June 1999

This herbaceous monocotyledonous plant is a succulent perennial herb. The leaves form a rosette with stems that are 1 meter long. Leaves are straight and stiff, narrow lanceolate, up to 50 cm long and 7 cm wide, gray green to green, with a black brown terminal spine. Branched inflorescences up to 6 m with green flowers.


Grown in gardens.
Landscaping cultivation.

Parts utilized

Properties and constituents
• Phytochemical studies have yielded sterols, steroidal sapogenins, steroidal alkaloids and alkaloidal amines.
• Hecogenin (IV), a saponin, is a source of cortisone.
• Study has isolated three new steroidal saponins: dongnosides C, D and E from the dried fermented residues of leaf juices.
• Barbourgenin is a steroidal sapogenin from the leaves.

No reported folkloric use in the Philippines.
In West Africa, lightly heated pounded roots used for intercostal pain; also used for nephralgia.
In Kenya, fibers used as bandage.
Used to treat high blood pressure; stomach and intestinal infections.
In the Bahamas, salted decoction of central bud is used for jaundice.
In East Aftrica, decoction of roots of Agave sisalana mixed with Aloe leaves.
In Kenya, herbal combination with M pyriflora roots and Aloe sp. leaves used for fowl pox.
Yields a stiff fiber for making twine, rope and dartboards.
Sisal ropes are widely used for marine, agricultural, shipping and general industrial use.
Contains a saponin useful for soap making.

Study Findings
• Biologic Activities / Intestianal / Uterine Muscle Stimulant: Pharmacologic study showed that the juice obtained from A sisalana leaves stimulate intestinal and uterine musculature, lowers blood pressure, and produces abortion in pregnant animals.
• Immuno-Modulatory / Flavones / Homoisoflavonoids: Study isolated three known flavones and seven homoisoflavonones from the methanolic extract of A sisalana. Three compounds significantly inhibited the production of IL-2 and IFN-g in activiated PBMC in a concentration-dependent manner.
• Antifertility Effects: Dinordin and anordin from the steroids of A sisalana have been used for antiferlity effects.
• Hecogenin (IV): Hecogenin, a saponin from A sisalana has been used in the manufacture of cortisone.
• Antibacterial: Study of crude methanolic extract has shown antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus.
• Antifungal: Study of hydroalcoholic extract obtained from leaves and sisal waste showed significant inhibition of Candida albicans.