For at least 9000 years, agaves and cacti have been cultivated and consumed by people the world over. Whether they have been used to make beverages, eaten as fruits, raised for their leaf fibers, or fed to cattle, these succulent plants have proven invaluable to the economies of many cultures. This entertaining and informative book details the unique characteristics and uses of the many species of agaves and cacti. In his exploration of their past, present, and potential future uses, Park S. Nobel--an internationally known expert on the subject--explores how agaves and cacti have served, for example, as ornamental horticulture, as a key ingredient of tequila, as hallucinogens in religious rites, and as medicines. The author also considers the biology of agaves and cacti by explaining how they are able to withstand the harsh desert conditions in which they flourish, and by describing at the cellular level their distinctive and fascinating physiologies. Finally, the book makes the case that these plants have exceptional potential for mass cultivation and utilization in the future. Succulent plant enthusiasts, amateur botanists, interested laypersons, researchers, and professionals alike will want to read this authoritative, popularly written introduction to these unusually interesting plants.