The Agave Didgeridoo
What is Agave?
Agave is a large genus of succulent plant that includes over 200 species. The New World native has been used as a source of food, fiber, and ornamentation for hundreds of years, and has spread far beyond its original range, thanks to migrating peoples who brought the plant with them. There are many modern uses for agave, and the plant is widely cultivated in warm regions where it will not be exposed to frost. Many gardeners also plant agave in low water gardens, as the succulent looks attractive and requires little water.
While many people think of agave as being a member of the cactus family, the plant is not, in fact, a cactus. It is actually more closely related to lilies, along with other succulent plants. Typically, agave grows in the form of a rosette of thick, fleshy leaves which are often toothed. The leaves may also terminate with large spikes. Many agave species flower only once, putting up a tall stalk of aromatic flowers and then dying off. Since the plants tend to grow runners and offshoots, smaller agave plants are left behind after the parent dies.
How does this apply to the didgeridoo?
When the agave plant reaches the end of it's life cycle, and the flower stalk has died, it will eventually fall the the ground and begin the process of losing moisture. Once they have been completely dried out in the desert sun, the stalk can be collected and taken home to be given new life as a beautiful musical instrument.
How do agave didgeridoos compare to eucalyptus?
Agave didgeridoos can produce a different sonic quality than their eucalyptus counterparts, though as with any other organically created instrument, there is no general rule that applies to all. By the very nature that the walls of an agave or yucca didgeridoo are more pliable the resulting drone can be much rounder producing more of a wash of sound. Because of this, agave didgeridoos tend to be preferred for meditative playing or sound healing work.