- Cluster of long, rigid leaves, each ending in a sharp point
- Leaf edges have fine saw-toothing
- Flower spike is about 10-15 feet high, made up of hundreds of tiny bell-shaped flowers
- Flowers are purple or white
- Monterey, California to northern Baja California, Mexico
- Found in chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and oak woodlands
- Often found in inland valleys
- Grows in sandy and clay soils
- Grows at elevations of 985 to 8000 feet
- The yucca takes 5-10 years to mature, then grows the 10-foot tall flower spike in only two weeks!
- The spike bear hundreds of bell-shaped white to purplish flowers
- It is exclusively pollinated by the California yucca moth. The symbiotic relationship allows the plants to be pollinated and the yucca moth’s larvae to have food
- The pollinated plant produces dry, winged capsule-shaped fruits that spill open at maturity to spill seeds, feeding the moth
- After pollination, the flower dies but will stay upright for many years afterwards
- Like all plants, it gets its energy from the sun through photosynthesis
- California thrashers, deer, rats, and other birds eat the plant
- Kumeyaay Native Americans used the Chaparral yucca for food and as fiber for cloth, sandals, and rope
- The chaparral yucca is also called the foothill yucca, Spanish bayonet, and Our Lord’s Candle because of its flower shape.
- The flowers, stalk, fruit, and seeds are all edible. The young flowers are edible but bitter.
- The chaparral yucca is very drought-tolerant, requiring little water to survive.
Sources: California Native Plant Society; Writing For Nature
Photo: Beth Besom
See the Chaparral yucca and other native plants in the Native Plant Garden at Living Coast Discovery Center.