A remarkable old yucca stands in front of the Anderson Collection, with a great swollen base and a substantial trunk, towering to a height of more than 36 feet (in 2018), which is pretty impressive considering it is just a lily. It was saved during the construction of that building in 2013, and received the rare honor of its own sign in the process.
This specimen, the largest of its species on campus, was transplanted ca. 1894 per Jane Stanford’s direction from the nearby Arizona Garden as part of the Stanford Museum’s landscape. In spring, gigantic clusters of white flowers form, which are very pretty in themselves if you can get close enough to see the individuals. These clusters are well over a yard long.
Other ancient specimens of Yucca filifera, as well as Y. schottii, are in the Arizona Garden, a collection of cacti and succulents designed and installed by Rudolph Ulrich in the early 1880s. Ulrich’s garden was adjacent to the site of a planned mansion for Leland and Jane Stanford. After their son died, the couple abandoned those plans, using the site instead for the family mausoleum.
Name derivation: Yucca – Haitian: yuca, or manihot, because young inflorescences sometimes roasted for food; filifera – (leaves) composed of or bearing thread-like structures.
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Anderson Collection note added, minor edits made by Sairus Patel, Sep 2018.