or American aloe
From the Greek, agauos, admirable. The Mexicans plant fences of Agave round their wigwams, as a defence against wild beasts. The Mahometans of Egypt regard it as a charm and religious symbol; and pilgrims to Mecca indicate their exploit by hanging over the door of their dwelling a leaf of Agave, which has the further charm of warding off evil spirits. The Jews in Cairo attribute a similar virtue to the plant, every part of which is utilised.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894