A Sotol Storm

I finally took a half-hour, and drove up the hill off I-10, to revisit the Helen of Troy sotol plantings out front.

Oee cannot easily miss their amazing dance party of bloom stalks this summer. Each time I’ve driven by, they’ve teased me to stop by, but I was in a hurry. They are all Blue Sotol / Dasylirion wheeleri, planted effectively as a large mass.

Photos from the stormy, cool morning of 8/2/2014 –

spotting these stalks from below, it was destiny…


Something I did not notice until this post, is how the repetition of windows is reinforced by rows of sotols. As in, “be bold, and great things will happen to you.”

1’s or 3’s of them by a boulder as a curiousity, a sea of rock, and a dying lollipop tree wouldn’t do that.

talk about a sotol celebration…
Blue or Gray Sotol, or Desert Spoon…
the row crop look this way makes up for the lack of mountains to see today…

Now, when one or a few die, does that really destroy the scene? Hardly – it simply creates randomness one can replant or leave be as negative space…no need for concern. Just have fun!

Some may notice the leaf tips are brown – that’s how they look over endless miles of our mountainsides and town landscapes, so it’s not a hardiness question. Nothing like what I see in milder coastal climes, or in humid areas, where they seem to not have those brown tips.

mesquite & sotol, a signature of our ecoregion…
so is the summer monsoon season…more rain, please

Of course, there’s often something to drink or smoke made from such plants, not just wearable items from their strong fibers! This time it’s alcohol.

Presenting the drink Sotol – also from the same species above, Dasylirion wheeleri, at least as it’s made in nearby parts of Chihuahua.

no surprise – the state drink of Chihuahua…

A refreshing glass of sotol was quite enjoyable a few evenings later.

best on the rocks, slowly sipped with *dark* sea salt chocolate…

I’ve been disappointed with a few other sotol brands, but the Jaquez family assured me via Twitter theirs was smooth. Those fine folks in Janos – some distance below Deming NM, and not far southwest of me – were correct, but it is strong!

I don’t sip sotol every week, but when I do, I prefer Don Cuco Traditional…apologies, Most Interesting Man.

And Don Cuco is on You Tube – Spanish  English 

6 Replies to “A Sotol Storm”

  1. Mine bloomed this year too! You’re right, we don’t get those brown tips near the coast. That is a spectacular mass planting of them. I am such a lightweight as far as alcohol, I think I’d confine my attentions to the dark chocolate…but thanks for doing the sotol sampling for us.

    Amazing with your drought – at least here, we’re flying high off last fall’s deluge and a hit-miss monsoon season! I thought so on the brown tips…every Dasylirion, Hesperaloe and Nolina here has them. My pleasure on the sotol:-)


  2. Ha! You beat me to it, I’m posting about my drinking sotol next week…

    (great photos, as always)

    Very cool, I can’t wait to hear what you had and thought. And thanks…


  3. What a great shot, second from the top, of all the bloom stalks reaching for the sky. And the one two below that, of the rows, with the palms at the end, I love that too. You’re absolutely right about how dying plants can create randomness.

    Thanks, seeing those cheers up any day. Now if I could raise my arms and hands up more…


  4. This design is great. I love sotols. So, why don’t I have one here? Good question.

    I’ll have to take your word on the drink. Now, if it was vodka……

    As Deb says….”Stay xeric, my friend.”

    And there are a few to choose from there – D. wheeleri, D. texanum (more compact, green, native in your area) and D. leiophyllum. Not sure if the grassy one, D. quandrangulatum is hardy above Austin, it’s sensitive to colder weather. But maybe?

    That was great, stay xeric…!


  5. Ha! You are then perhaps The Second Most Interesting Man? “Stay xeric, my friends!”…

    Those sotol stalks reaching for the sky reminded me of images I’ve seen of congregations in worship when hands are raised in praise. While I’d never suggest the plants are engaged in any religious gesture, the rows of bloom stalks certainly lift the eyes to the hills (or as you say, where the hills would be if the clouds didn’t cover).

    All this because the comments section on your recent post (Hot and Cold) reminded me in a roundabout way that the Bible, taken as poetry, is written by desert people about another desert land. There is much said there about man’s relationship to the land, and also about both the long view and the small gesture. Weird, eh?

    Even 2nd most interesting man is good for me, even if that’s actually “interesting”!

    I actually agree with a Phoenix landscape architect, Steve Martino, who first called such things “skyline accent plants”. He meant saguaros, ocotillos or tall yuccas, but the sotol stalks are also accents. They do look like uplifted hands, maybe happy for the rain like they are blue skies the other 360 days. Those desert peoples and biblical writings are rather similar…add in mountain views, wells, etc.


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