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Current Photo: CY0012
Available Photos: CY0012 CY0032 (click to change photo)
Photographer's Comments: 35mm slide.
Authority: L. 1753
Date Added: 2004-03-31
Entered By: Paul J. Brunelle
Yucca concava Haw.
Yucca smalliana Fernald,
Yucca glauca Noisette ex S
ims 1826 (nom. illeg.)
Yucca, Needle Palm,
Beargrass, Josh Plant,
Spanish Dagger, Spanish Bayonet
Palm Lily (genus vernacular name)
Yuccas, the "Adamís Needles", are borderline succulents which, until relatively recently, were classified in the family Liliaceae but now have been tucked in with their close relatives in the Agavaceae. They are woody perennials that normally do not appear in a succulents collection, mainly because most are prohibitive in size, although some are used as houseplants occasionally in their earliest years.
Some species are half hardy; they die back to the soil level to survive the winter, as does this species, Yucca filamentosa, popular as perennial garden plants because of their spectacular annual displays of hundreds of flowers. The photos show one such Yucca which has graced a small park in Dartmouth Nova Scotia for many years. I had one, from a divided rootstock, in my southwest-facing, raised rock garden for many years. That one bloomed annually and abundantly very much like the photos here but not quite so tall.
Yucca filamentosa is mainly distributed throughout the eastern USA from New Jersey to Louisiana, but it is common in Maine and Vermont and very popular for cultivation as far north as southern Canada, especially the more humid and temperate parts. Rosettes are almost stem-free and grow to ca. 78cm (30") in diameter and 47cm (18") tall, and three or four rosettes form within a few years, each with its inflorescence, before they must be divided; at least it is so in Nova Scotia. The inflorescence rises, in habitat, from 1.2m (4ft.) to 4.5m (15ft.), but only to 1.5m (5ft) tall In Nova Scotia. Fifty to 60 campanulate, pendent, white or creamy 5cm (2") flowers form, on each rosette, a loose, elongated open panicle which I found to be mildly sweet-scented in the evening after a sunny day.