March 28, 2015
The Yucca plant in these photographs is a specie of broadleaf, flowering evergreen whose botanical name is Yucca Filamentosa. It is native to the beaches and sand dunes of southeastern United States, growing as far north as Maryland and as far west as Louisiana. It has also been naturalized to regions in France, Italy and Turkey. A member of the Asparagaceae family, it is commonly called Adam’s Needle, Spanish Bayonet, Needle Palm or just plain Yucca, which is what I know it as. Though it resembles a small palm, it is more closely related to lilies.
Native Yuccas grow in dry, sandy or even rocky conditions, growing best in well-drained soil. They prefer the full sun, but tolerates the shade, and will even grow in complete shade. It is both deer and rabbit tolerate, and also handles drought well. Its rigid, sword-shaped, sharp-tipped three-inch wide green leaves (with blue overtones) grow to a length of nearly three feet long. The leaves form a foliage cluster approximately two to three feet in both height and width, and all originate from the taproot, taking the form of a rosette. The leaves are adorned with long, curly fibers that peel back as the leaf grows longer and longer.
The Yucca plant is solely pollinated by the Yucca Moth, which relies on the plant exclusively for its survival. In late spring, an erect spike of a flowering stalk grows up from the center of the rosette, though many plants will not bloom for several years. The flower cluster is called an inflorescence, and is made up of several dozen individual two-inch long, creamy-white bell-shaped flowers growing downward. The typical stalk grows up to a height of four to six feet tall, although they can get as tall as twelve feet, depending on your region. These stalks grow taller in warmer climates, and shorter in colder regions. The bloom time, as always, depending on your region, ranges from June through August.
These stalks should be pruned after all the blooms die. However, the blossoms should be allowed to mature into pods that split open, releasing several seeds. There is some debate as to whether or not the plant dies after blooming. Some say yes, others no. Two summers ago, one of my Yuccas did die over the winter after blooming. However, the plant in these photos seems to have survived the winter. I’m no botanist, and far from being very knowledgeable, but my guess is that maybe this has more to due with the age of the plant than just the typical bloom cycle. If your Yucca does die, this plant also propagates with many seedlings growing up from the taproot and broken pieces of roots. This works out well as Yuccas have deep taproots, and I know for a fact it can be very difficult to dig up the entire root system. Young, small Yuccas can spout up from the roots in a few months or the following year.
If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!
Steven H. Spring