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


Borrowed View: To My East

Each day after working around those I must work around, this is what I see once I change into summer clothes and open the blinds.


Sure, the foreground of my rental property lacks. Though the spare look of retained native plants in brown gravel mulch helps – Soaptree clumps and a few Fourwing Saltbush.

The neighbor’s horse fence trellis nicely compliments the space, adding an additional edge to their house, irregular desert plants, and low wall.

More closely, a nicely-framed Sotol is in the shadow of a Desert Willow.


A borrowed view is a powerful design tool, when it’s good.

Even when you borrow it with what you choose to frame, but certainly more when you design frames into such a view.

Just a tempering of our near-record heat to something less obscene, and more flowers are appearing on that Chilopsis linearis.


Though none of this is mine, it’s certainly a nice welcome back to my real life when I get home each day. Or just each day that I’m home.

It is my own view of serenity.

7/8/17 weather: 96 / 65 / 0.00

Edge of Reveg

One cold and blustery day over 3 years ago, landscape contractor Robert Macias and I walked the linear ponding areas, in advance of their revegetation seeding once it warmed up.

The goal: restore the Las Cruces east mesa’s former Chihuahuan desert grassland cover, stabilizing slopes as well. Goal met.

MV S Ph1-RevegE02_2013-10-22-SML
10/13 – two years after seeding…parkway strips too narrow for seeding; container Soaptree and Sideoats Grama blend with the same in seeded areas

A few stray NOID bluestems volunteered into the sideoats and soaptree, from the seed mix or the wild. I’ll re-check the plans; also works, so they can stay.

The golf course crew is following my maintenance plan; they remove volunteer plants from edges and that are overgrown, but keep others.

MV S Ph 1-RevegSideoats02_2013-10-22-SML
10/13 – Western Pygmy-Blue butterflies abound

In fact, a variety of wildlife already appreciate our native plants. Part by design, part just by using what grows just beyond the development.

I’ve never accepted that native landscapes need to look terrible.

A minimal rotary irrigation system was designed in seeded areas, to establish seeding and help it during drought periods. Some insist such seeding needs no irrigation, though they have few examples, especially if the monsoon or winter moisture fail.

MV S Ph1-RevegE02_2013-11-13-SML
11/13 – some reveg seeding allowed to colonize slopes to the edge of ornamental plantings, here it’s Purple Threeawn / Aristida purpurea

The low green mounds are Thompson Broom / Baccharis x starn, and the colored trees are Texas Red Oak / Quercus buckleyi.

MV S Ph 1-RevegE02_2014-07-01-SML
7/2014 – thanks, temporary irrigation and solar power

The yellow wildflowers behind the the steel boxes are Desert Marigold / Baileya multiradiata. You can tell from other posts how I like that one almost as much as it likes our disturbed ground.

More on this project later, including how the ponds changed from the original developer intent.