Arizona Naturalists >>> Sycamore Gallery Flora >>> Agavaceae >>> Dasylirion wheeleri

Desert Spoon

Dasylirion wheeleri

In death a Sotol, Dasylirion wheeleri, provides refuge for many animals, photo © by Michael Plagens

Found on a shady slope adjacent to Peppersauce Canyon, Sta. Catalina Mts., Pinal Co., Arizona. April 2012. Dead sotols collapse and thus create a dense thicket of prickly leaves where birds, reptiles and mammals can nest.

RANGE: This large succulent reaching 2 meters or more in height, appears on dry ledges and slopes lining sycamore canyons as well as in upper Sonoran Desert, chaparral and encinal vegetation types. It also a major component of the Chihuahuan Desert.

LEAVES: The long strap-like leaves are moderately thick and have sharp closely spaced prickles along the margins. The base of each leaf expands abruptly giving a so-called spoon-shape. Sotol leaves produce a resistant and flexible fiber that has been used by the Tarahumara and others in weaving baskets.

FLOWERS: Thousands of very small flowers appear on a 2 to 3 meter tall spike each year. They are creamy-yellow in color.

SUCCULENT: The central stem stores water and starch which has been harvested and fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage, Sotol.

Sponsored Link:
Photo © by Michael Plagens

Agavaceae -- Agave Family

More Information:

Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
The Flora of Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 29 September 2012