Plant Profile: Yucca rostrata

Latin name: Yucca rostrata (“YOU-kah ross-TRAH-tah”)
Common name:
Beaked Yucca, Big Bend Yucca
Originally from:
Western Texas and northern Mexico in the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila.
Blooms: Large clusters of white flowers bloom on yellow-orange colored stalks that rise above the foliage on mature plants in late spring.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Winter rain is enough – hates waterlogged roots.
Height x width: 15′ x 10′
Zones: 5 to 11
Where to find in P. Garden: We have five down at PRG in a group

Yuccas are a staple at PG and PRG, and this one is particularly beautiful. A very slow-growing (and therefore expensive in large sizes) tree-like yucca with upright stems and beautiful gray-blue narrow foliage that can branch, but usually doesn’t.Growing slowly to to 12-15 feet tall, it has 2 foot long, somewhat stiff, slightly waxy, pale bluish-green leaves with very thin yellow margins,which make up a gorgeous rosette on top of the stems.

Give it a warm sunny areas with good drainage and perhaps occasional summer water and it will do well down to 0°F. Gophers do like it though, so if they annoy your garden plant it in a big basket.

Found on rocky slopes and ridges in western Texas and northern Mexico in the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, the name “rostrata” means “beaked” referring to either the shape of the flower buds or parts of the fruit. That has led to the common name of Beaked Yucca but it is also called Silver Yucca or Big Bend yucca for the region in Texas where it is commonly found. The indigenous people of this area also called it Soyate and Palmita. 

It is sometimes confused with Yucca rigida which has stiffer leaves that are more bowed in cross section compared to the flat leaves of Yucca rostrata. A quick way to tell if you are confused which plant you are looking at is to imagine falling headfirst into it. Yucca rostrata would release you with scratches. Yucca rostrata would keep you impales on its stems…. forever…

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