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Mohave Yucca

Yucca schidigera

Also called the "Spanish Dagger," this evergreen shrub or small tree has a few upright branches and bayonet-like leaves from 2 to 4 feet long and 1-1/2 inches wide. The trunk is grayish-brown and 6 to 12 inches in diameter. The Mojave Yucca grows to a height of 16 feet.

Flowers of the Yucca genus -- which includes the Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) -- depend on the small, white Pronuba Moth for pollination. This moth, in addition to gathering pollen, actually deposits her eggs in the ovary of the yucca flowers. The Pronuba larvae feed on the developing fruit, but leave some seeds to mature.


Mojave Yucca

Range

Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southeastern California, Baja, southern Nevada and western Arizona.

Habitat

Rocky desert slopes and Creosote desert flats below 7,000 feet.

Flowers

Upright, branched clusters of purplish-white, bell-shaped flowers between 1 and 2 inches long bloom in springtime in the desert. Mojave Yucca can be seen in bloom along the coast as late as August and September.

Fruit

A cylindrical, curved, dull-black berry with thick, edible flesh matures in late summer. The berry grows to 2 to 4 inches long by 1-1/2 inches wide containing many small black seeds. The berry dries and falls from the tree before winter.

Mojave Yucca seeds

Click here to read about the yucca moth.

Click here to read about the Joshua Tree

Interesting Facts About Yucca Plants . . .

  • Yucca wood has the lowest ignition temperature of any other wood, which makes it useful as a fire-starter.
  • The state flower of New Mexico is the "yucca flower."
  • Yucca plants are reliant on the yucca moth for pollination.


Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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