2014: The Year of the Sotol

Everyone is commenting on how amazing the sotols look this year, so many flowering. Or is it that there are more planted than ever, to see them?

Partly my fault!

Photos 7/2014, from parts of “low” El Paso dropping just below 4,000′ above sea level…to parts of “high” Albuquerque nearing 5,700′ –

When I spotted these zipping by one morning, I knew I needed to stop back – Dasylirion wheeleri weeks later, at dusk…that sky…

Martina’s office, as she said, is her “homage to Donald Judd” and his Marfa planting. El Paso homage, that is, since those are not Marfa’s Dasylirion leiophyllum / Desert Candle, but the bluish Dasylirion wheeleri / Sotol or Desert Spoon, which takes over from the foothills above the Rio Grande Valley into central Arizona.

the following morning, evening clouds of the monsoon season are long gone…
…clouds building back up mid-day, but same sotols…
agaves, too…that’s another post…
back to this place in 2014, this time it’s Dasylirion texanum…

You might remember that place, too. 15 years there, and I thought I couldn’t go back for months or even years more.

When I drove past the front, I got to talk to my longest ex-neighbor, who’s 85…Cecily. In fact, she’s lived on that block the 3rd longest, with the neighbor to the south the 2nd longest. You know who was the longest resident…

The hot skies and bleached land – some humidity without rain – beckon me to drive home. 260+ miles by road. And more of a monsoon season supposed to be major, but so far a bust – and with about 6 weeks left, to surprise us?

But first, the pirated medians.

another 1998 planting…back to Dasylirion wheeleri, looking towards my new home, 225 miles as the crow flies…
same mass plantings…unirrigated…facing the steep foothills where I got back into shape for over the last decade, finding profound solace ..
down the same median, you can see the difference in my (2) sotol species…

Unlike the El Paso example at the beginning, there’s no drip irrigation here. Yet in a drought year – another one – there are still bloom stalks.

the greener Dasylirion texanum, again…
and the bluer (or grayish) Dasylirion wheeleri

I only wish I could have photographed some of the other newer plantings of sotols, mostly D. wheeleri, on my few hours driving through Albuquerque. But time was marching on, and so much traffic.


5 Replies to “2014: The Year of the Sotol”

  1. Solols are fabulous on some urban medians this summer in ABQ. The yuccas were splendid earlier this spring/summer too. I’m referring to medians on Eubank Blvd. Two out-of-normal-range ocotillo plants are in that median too-they survived the Great Freeze a few years ago. The City tore out all of the surrounding chamisa, leaving a starker, but more interesting median.

    Thanks for visiting! I wonder if the 9/2013 wet spell is what did it for sotols and yuccas? I remember the Eubank medians when planted 1995-ish; I’ve posted a few pics of them on my old blog. I may check them out next time up, to see without the chamisas.

    Never heard of the variety, “out-of-normal range” ocotillo! Seriously, they did so well through 2/11 and previous extremes because they are actually in their range – Ocotillo occurs naturally close to Abq, in an almost identical climate but different soils. Quite a few large specimens all over Abq for decades, but a key is planting healthy, rooted ocotillos – most go in bare-rooted and dried-out, or even dead.

    Though some plants thrive far out of their ranges – where seed hasn’t travelled – mostly in analogous climate / soil regimes…


  2. I read this thinking that Hacienda de Chihuahua’s signature product was finally going to get some prime time and it turns out to be a photo essay on the plant which provides the juices for conversion into sotol.


    Plant them all over.

    Sotol is overshadowed by Tequila.
    Try a reposado or an anejo, neat.
    You won’t look back.

    With all the sotols thriving in El Paso, Abq, etc, I was distracted by the plant. I was thinking I should add in the drink, but I forgot. And I have tried:-)

    A few years ago, I got turned onto Don Cuco Sotol. Their’s to me is better than Hacienda and another I had; the folks at Don Cuco were right in sipping it with *dark* sea salt chocolate. My last trip to Abq, I bought another bottle of Don Cuco – last one in the store. What’s tequila?

    They’re based out of Janos CH MX, S of Deming 90+ minutes…must visit.


  3. Fabulous! None of my dasylirion have bloomed, maybe someday. One of the gardens on the Fling tour featured a monster two headed blooming sotol, it was amazing…

    They tend to take 5-10 years, and some rain, so be prepared soon! I like it – the sotols of PDX.


  4. I love those Dasylirion bloom stalks. I need to work a couple into my spaces though I’d have to swap out some agave and/or opuntia to do so and it pains me to discard any established plant that is doing well even in the interest of introducing a bit of diversity to an area.

    The blooms provoking comment here in CenTex are the crepe myrtles. More than any year I can recall, they’ve been outdoing themselves, providing massed clouds of color all around town.

    They are so interesting blooming in mass – an exotic flair to our bread-and-butter plants! The crepe myrtles are good this year in spots, and I’ve been learning about varieties that take desert conditions better and grow more lush… Must be your less hot summer for a change!


  5. I don`t get to the desert much, but when I do. I love the sotols, cacti and agave! I`ve never seen them flower like that before, thanks!

    I know there’s a Big Bend trip in your future after your last one! IT is amazing this year. Tried a sotol in a container there?


Comments are closed.