Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Presented in Association with the
Western New Mexico University Department of Natural Sciences

Yucca elata Engelmann
(Soaptree Yucca, Palmilla)


Family: Agavaceae

Status: Native

Synonyms:
None

This yucca frequently reaches several meters tall and may have several branches. The inflorescence is a highly branched panicle on tall scape. The fruit is a dry, brown capsule with three chambers which are transversely ridged on the inner surface. There are two poker chip stacks of black seeds in each of the chambers with a septum between the stacks. Some of the seeds are white, perhaps sterile or just a color variation. The long leaves have a white border when young and filamentous strands from the edge, more evident toward the center of the plant. It is not an uncommon sight to see Yucca elata appearing to have been shorn to the stem. Apparently packrats (Neotoma sp.) add the Yucca leaves to their nests.
Please click on an image for a larger file.



Yucca elata, photo Russ Kleinman, Silver City, May 19, 2007



Yucca elata, detail of inflorescence, photo Russ Kleinman, Burro Mtns., CD trail at Jack's Peak, July 9, 2007



Yucca elata, profile at sunset, photo Russ Kleinman, Burro Mtns., CD trail at Jack's Peak, July 9, 2007



Yucca elata, capsule, photo Russ Kleinman, Black Range, Ancheta Canyon, Dec. 10, 2008



Yucca elata, seeds stacked like poker chips, photo Russ Kleinman, Black Range, Ancheta Canyon, Dec. 10, 2008



Yucca elata, closeup of flower, photo Russ Kleinman, Little Burro Mtns., along US 180N, July 1, 2009



Yucca elata, thick underground root system, photo Russ Kleinman, Ridge Road near Silver City, October 21, 2009



Yucca elata, closeup of leaf, photo Russ Kleinman, WD Ranch Road, December 3, 2009



Yucca elata, macro of cross section of leaf, photo Russ Kleinman, WD Ranch Road, December 3, 2009



Yucca elata, filamentous stranding from margin of leaves is more evident centrally, photo Russ Kleinman, Ridge Road south of Silver City, February 12, 2010



Yucca elata, appearance after being shorn by packrats, photo Russ Kleinman, Burro Mtns., WD Ranch Road near Engineer Canyon, March 1, 2010



Yucca elata, shorn yuccas with packrat midden underneath made up mainly of grass, cow manure & Yucca elata leaves, photo Russ Kleinman, Tyrone Ridge Access Road, March 10, 2010


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