Plant of the Month, May 2020 - Chaparral Yucca

Photo: Bri Weldon/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Chaparral Yucca

Hesperoyucca whipplei

Like the California Thrasher, Chaparral yucca is a native plant in California and Baja California. It is part of the yucca family and contains a cluster of sharp, point and rigid leaves. These leaves had a lot of uses from our Tongva indigenous community. They would use them to weave baskets, make rope, sewing, and natural soap to name a few. The highlight of this plant however, is the flower stalk that grows after 5-10 years when the plant reaches maturity. The flower stalk reaches 10-15 feet and displays clusters of bell-shape white and purplish flowers. These flowers can only be pollinated by the yucca moth, who has a symbiotic relationship with this plant. Without yucca moths, this plant will not be able to exist. After pollination, this chaparral yucca will die, however the flower stalk will remain intact for more years, providing a perfect perch for a lot of birds. You can find these plants through our Center and parking lot, and if you are lucky, you will find them flowering.

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