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Plant Highlight: Yucca carnerosana

May 2019

Yuccas always put on a wonderful display at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in spring, with their showy clusters of waxy white flowers.  Among the many species at the garden is the stout-trunked Yucca carnerosana, which comes from west Texas and arid parts of northeastern Mexico.  The differences are slight between it and the closely related Y. faxoniana, and many botanists favor including it under that species rather than maintaining it as a separate one.

Several Yucca carnerosana in bloom

Yucca carnerosana is slow-growing, but can eventually get to be 15 feet or more in height (3½ m).  Though the old leaves persist for years, eventually they are shed to reveal the stocky gray trunk.  Unlike many other arborescent yuccas, the trunk of this one does not branch, though it may form a clump by producing a few offshoots at the base.  The leaves are stiff and dagger-like and may be up to 4 feet long (120 cm).

Unlike many of the other yuccas, our specimens of Y. carnerosana do not flower every year, but when they do they make quite a show.  The inflorescence is well-branched, with the branches tightly packed together so that the whole structure forms a large bouquet of snow-white flowers.