Scientific name: Yucca rostrata
Plant type: Evergreen shrub
Bloom: Inflorescence to 3ft with clusters of bright white flowers
Environment: Full sun with well-drained, rocky soil
Uses: Specimen plant
Entrance Garden – 5C
Yucca rostrata Engelm. ex Trel., is a large tree-like member of the Asparagaceae family. Native to southwest Texas and northern Mexico, it is also commonly referred to as Big Bend yucca or beaked yucca in English. Indigenous people in its native range refer to Yucca rostrata as soyate and palmita.
Beaked yucca is native to Brewster County, Texas and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila. These areas are extremely arid, and the species is found at elevations of up to 3000 ft on rocky mountain slopes and in canyons.
Indigenous people in this region use different parts of Yucca rostrata for a variety of uses. The flower buds and petals, as well as the fruit are eaten, and the leaves are used as fibers for items such as sandals and baskets. The roots are also used for soap.
Yucca rostrata is considered to be of Least Concern in terms of conservation by the IUCN Red List. This designation is due to its relative abundance in its native range and its occurrence in multiple protected areas, such as Big Bend National Park in Texas and Área Natural Protegida El Rescalco in Coahuila, Mexico.
Yucca rostrata is a slow growing, evergreen plant with a tree like habit. At maturity, this species can grow to heights of up to 15 ft, and though branching is possible, it is typically single stemmed. The leaves are long, growing up to 2 ft, with a bluish tinge. These leaves will cluster at the top of the stem in a crown.
The inflorescence of Y. rostrata rises high above the foliage, often over 3 ft, and is covered in clusters of bright white flowers. The flowers are attractive to pollinators such as the yucca moth (Tegeticula sp.), in its native Texas and Mexico, and hummingbirds. The beaked yucca prefers well drained, rocky soil in full sun. This species is drought and heat tolerant; it is also relatively cold hardy and can withstand low temperatures between 10°F and 0°F.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text and photos by Victoria Stewart.