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Sonoran Desert Agaves & Yuccas

Robust succulents with long, often thickened leaves. Leaf tips often sharp-pointed. Flower perianth usually with six, similar petal-like segments.

Desert Agave

Agave deserti

Banana Yucca

Yucca baccata

Photo by Stan Shebs

Sturdy leaves in a basal rosette. Leaf edges with stiff spines. Flowering stalk pushing up rapidly to several meters tall. Plant dies after flowering but usu. succeeded by vegetative pups. Fairly common upper elevations of Sonoran Desert. Detailed Description

Photo by Stan Shebs

This image is hosted at Wikipedia. Few branched usu. 2-3 meters tall with stiff. bayonette leaves. Large white flowers born on meter-tall stalks. Leaf edges with loose fibers. Fairly common upper elevations of Sonoran Desert. Detailed Description

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Dasylirion wheeleri

Soap Tree Yucca

Yucca elata

Photo by Mike Plagens

Usu. unbranched trunks to 1 meter +. Leaves, long, strap-like with sharp prickles along margins. Tall flowering stalk each year with numerous small flowers. Also known as Desert Spoon. Detailed Description

Photo by Stan Shebs

Tall yucca with narrower, more numerous leaves than Banana Yucca and with copious fibers shredding from leaf margins. Fairly common at at upper elevations of Sonoran Desert. Detailed Description

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Mojave Yucca

Yucca schidigera

Joshua Tree

Yucca brevifolia

Photo by Mike Plagens

Robust yucca with stiff leaves and large panicles many white flowers in mid spring. Northwestern Sonoran Desert. . Detailed Description

Illustration © Mike Plagens

Distinctive tree form. Growing several meters tall with dagger leaves clustered at branch tips. Branches cloaked in old, dead leaves. Large white flowers on fairly tall stalks. Found only in northwestern portions of Sonoran Desert where it merges with the Mojave Desert. Detailed Description

Golden-flowered Century Plant

Agave chrysantha

Parry's Beargrass

Nolina parryi

Photo by Mike Plagens

Long, tapering leaves in dense rosette at ground level. Tall stalk with thousands of bright golden-yellow flowers. Upper Sonoran and open Juniper-Oak Woodlands and chaparral. Detailed Description

Nolina Parryi, Parry's Beargrass, photo © Mike Plagens

Numerous flexible, strap-like leaves in dense rosettes. Leaf margines with short teeth. Tall flower stalks with many thousands of small greenish white flowers. Detailed Description

Toumey's Shin Dagger

Agave toumeyana

Bear Grass

Nolina microcarpa

Photo by Mike Plagens

Low growing agave with sharp dagger-like leaves about shin-height. Flowering stalks very tall in relation to plant size. Encountered mostly at upper Sonoran Desert elevation in transition to grassland or chaparral. Detailed Description

Nolina microcarpa, Beargrass, photo © Mike Plagens

Long, slender, grass-like leaves are much tougher in texture than any Arizona grass. Large, many-branched panicles of small flowers. Detailed Description

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2012