Asparagaceae (asparagus family) Yucca

Yucca aloifolia Spanish bayonet

Southern United States, Mexico, West Indies

Single-stemmed or branched, this yucca eventually reaches 10 feet in height; stems are more slender than those of other arborescent yuccas at Stanford. Leaves, 12 to 20 inches long with yellow margins, are arranged in a crowded spiral around the stem. Showy white blooms 4 inches across, some tinged red to purple, appear in dense erect clusters fall to winter.

Look for this commonly cultivated yucca in the Arizona Garden and New Guinea Sculpture Garden. Superficially similar cabbage trees, Cordyline australis, grow in the New Guinea Sculpture Garden near the corner of Santa Teresa Street and Lomita Drive. Examination reveals differences in bark and leaves and if in flower, the many small papery flowers of the cabbage tree are distinct from the larger waxy flowers of Spanish bayonet and other yuccas.

Illustrations: gallery.

Name derivation: Yucca – Haitian: yuca, or manihot, because young inflorescences sometimes roasted for food; aloifolia – aloe-like leaves.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005, with John Rawlings adding the notes on Cordyline.