Wildflowers of Southern Arizona
Soap Tree Yucca.
Asparagus (Asparagaceae) family.
Duration: Perennial. Nativity: Native. Lifeform: Succulent. General: Arborescent plant with definite trunks, usually 1 to 2 m tall but can be up to 9 m, simple with a few branches; solitary or in small colonies. Leaves: In large rosettes, leaves linear, sharp-pointed, flexible, 25-95 cm long by 1 cm wide, light green, the margins white with curly filaments 2-5 cm long, the apex tapering to a short spine. Flowers: Inflorescence a spreading panicle, the uppermost portion narrow and racemose; on a scape that lifts it well above the foliage. Flowers campanulate to globose, 4-6 cm long, creamy white, often tinged with green or pink, pendant, on slender to stout pedicels. Fruits: Capsules erect, dry and papery, oblong-cylindric, 4-7 cm long, splitting open at maturity to release seeds. Seeds dull black, thin, 7-11 mm. Ecology: Found on mesas, desert washes, sandy plains, and grasslands from 1,500-6,000 ft (450-1900 m); flowers May-July. Distribution: NV, AZ, NM, TX; south to n MEX. Notes: Distinguished by often being arborescent (sometimes with a small trunk or lacking), with thinner, more flexible leaves than other Yucca species in the region, the leaf edges with curling fibers and lacking teeth; racemose inflorescences of large cream colored flowers; followed by dry, erect fruits which split open at maturity. Often found in desert grasslands, the upright and elongate trunk of old leaves helps to clearly distinguish the species. Ethnobotany: Flowers and buds were used as food, the roots were used to make soap, and the leaves used for basketweaving. Etymology: Yucca comes from Haitian word yuca, or manihot, because young inflorescences are sometimes roasted for food; elata means tall.
Santa Catalina Mountains.
Beside Catalina Highway above Molino Basin Campground
Location: Above Molino Basin Campground.
See SEINet Pictures and Description
See FireFly Forest Pictures and Description