Yuck-a! Spanish Bayonet

!yucca aloifolia1 copy
Volunteer Jean ‘JJ’ Romano (Class of 2013) sent this photo of Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia) in glorious bloom at the western-most wetland cross-over bridge at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, as well as this close-up …
!Yucca aloifolia by jj copy
You usually will find this formidable, stiff-leaved plant growing at the beach and on the margins of brackish marshes and may recall that one grows near the Boathouse to the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory at the gate to Oslo Road.

Also known as aloe yucca or Spanish dagger, this plant has thick, stiff leaves with an apex that ends in a small, conical brown spine …
!yucca-aloifoia-leaves-&-flowers-close-up
Native people used this very sharp tip as a needle and from the fibrous leaves fashioned clothes, footwear, and baskets. Pioneers made rope and string from the fibrous leaves. As a modern landscape use, Jim Goldsmith recommends placing this plant beneath the window of teenage daughters.
!yucca-aloifolia-closeup
Dramatic erect panicles (up to 2′ tall) of creamy colored pendant flowers, sometimes tinged with purple, briefly festoon this plant in May or June. Unfortunately, these showy blooms last only about a week. The petals (actually sepals) can be eaten raw or deep-dried, as a potato-chip substitute.

This monoecious plant is pollinated only by the yucca moth (Pronuba yuccasella), so fruiting in our area is rare due to a lack of its obligate pollinator.
!yucca-aloifoia-vertical
In your yard, this drought tolerant plant can be used to deter foot traffic or as an attractive accent plant, properly placed. From Jean Romano’s photo of the Spanish bayonet flowering at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, you can see that this plant flowers in semi-shade and tolerates a wide variety of conditions.

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