A remarkable old yucca stands north of the Cantor Center, with a great swollen base, and a substantial trunk towering up to 20 feet or more to a branching crown, which is pretty impressive considering it is just a lily. It is thought that this specimen was transplanted in the university’s early years from the nearby 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.) 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.
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.