Mutant Yuccas

Some of you may recall a particular Yucca elata / Palmilla that I photographed on a roadtrip years ago. That plant did the unusual and formed a stalk with bulbils.

These two Y. elata in my neighborhood formed similar stalks this fall, long after flowering this past May.



That one is in a clump, with two heads forming stalks each with bulbils! It gets better! Let’s zoom in to see what’s going on.


Below is the second but shorter stalk with bulbils. Freaky!

Yucca_elata-Bulbils1d-SMLI’ve never seen another Yucca species do that, even here in yucca-central, the Chihuahuan Desert and home for much of my last 27 years.


This is what most every Yucca elata looks like on our sandy soil:


A low, clumping habit, instead of tall like on caliche soils.

And no stalks with bulbils!

Not being a botanist, I have no idea why a few Y. elata form such stalks.

Is it only on sandy soils? Is it from a disease or an insect? Is it from unusual periods of varying weather patterns, such as one of the wettest Octobers on record here, with 4 inches of rain following an unusually long, dry, and hot summer? Is it from maintenance or root disturbance?

That means Las Cruces joins such exotic locales as Albuquerque and Deming, in my tens of thousands of miles of driving and being observant, where a hand-full of Yucca elata form bulbils on stalks. Since one can’t drive more than a few blocks in the above places without seeing Yucca elata, this growth must be rare.

Though these Y. elata look like strange, mutant plants, I’m oddly attracted to them.

It’s tempting to “liberate” some of the bulbils to try cultivating, before a stalk is removed by the unknowing…


12/1/18 weather:
56F / 37F / 0.00 or 13c / 3c / 0.0