The Dry Garden: Hillside wonder

Posted on | May 27, 2011 | No Comments

Illustration: E. O. Murman / Margo Murman, from "Cacti, Agaves, and Yuccas of California and Nevada"

This is the time of year when even those hostile to the idea of water rationing in the garden have their heads turned by what nature has created without sprinklers. Rising from the untended hills of Southern California are spires of ethereal white flowers. They’re so big that you can see them from hundreds of feet away. If they’re backlit, double that distance.

There’s no right name for the plant that produces these arresting plumes. Common terms vary from Quixote yucca to Spanish bayonet to even the reverent Our Lord’s Candle. Science has no straight answer either. As genetic analysis continues to shake up traditional taxonomy, the botanical name is slipping from Yucca whipplei to Hesperoyucca whipplei.

Click here to keep reading about chaparral yucca in the Los Angeles Times and the wonderful book, “Cacti, Agaves, and Yuccas of California and Nevada” by Stephen Ingram.

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