Yucca smalliana Fern. - Spanish Bayonet, Adam's Needle

Yucca smalliana plant

Family - Agavaceae

Stems - Essentially absent. Flowering stem to +2.5m tall.

Leaves - All basal, linear, to 4cm wide, 1m long, margins often appearing shredded with coarse, curly fibers, spine-tipped. Leaves of the stem reduced to scales.

Yucca smalliana leavesLeaves of the flowering stem.

Inflorescence - Single large panicle, 2-3m tall, axis somewhat pubescent. Pedicels 1.1cm long, dense pubescent.

Flowers - Petals 3, acute to acuminate, white, glabrous, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, to 4cm long, 2.5cm broad, succulent. Sepals 3, white, acute to acuminate, to +4cm long, 2cm broad, elliptic, glabrous, succulent. Stamens 6. Filaments clavate, 2cm long, dense pubescent, slightly bent. Anthers small, yellow. Ovary superior, greenish-white, puberulent, 3-locular. Placentation axile. Pistil +2cm long. Stigma 3-lobed, each lobe sometimes divided again and appearing as six shallow lobes. Fruit a 6 angled capsule to +5cm long, +3cm in diameter. Seeds many, flat, +6mm broad.

Yucca smalliana flower

Yucca smalliana flowerClose-up.

Flowering - May - August.

Habitat - Cultivated but escaping to various localities.

Origin - Native of southern U.S.

Other info. - This species can be found cultivated throughout Missouri and is commonly escaped. It is very showy when in bloom and is easily recognizable.
The leaf fibers of various Yuccas and Agaves can be mechanically extracted and used to make rope with very high tensile strength.

Photographs taken off Hwy 60 near Van Buren, MO., 6-5-04.


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