a win-win pollinator story

Yucca Schottii Cistus 3.JPG

mountain yucca
yucca schottii
asparagaceae

  • 6-12' tall, 5-6' wide

  • arborescent succulent 

  • moderate water in low desert (terrace zone)

  • FULL to part SUN

  • HARDY TO ABOUT -20º F

  • famous mutualism species

Mountain yucca (Yucca x schottii) can be found in the mountain foothills of southeast Arizona and New Mexico. 

The "×" in the name indicates that this is a nothospecies, regarded as being a natural hybrid between two other species. In this case, Yucca × schottii is believed to have originated as a hybrid between Y. baccata and Y. madrensis. Yucca × schottii is firmly established and does reproduce freely in the wild.  In fact, the pollination story about this species is interesting: a specific species of moth (Tegeticula yuccasella) pollinates the flowers by laying eggs in the flowers. The larvae develop inside the fruit as it develops, and eats some of the seeds, but not all of them. In turn, the moth visits several flowers of this yucca ensuring pollination. This is a prime example of ecological mutualism.

Easy to grow, this species can grow in part to full sun, with moderate to low water. Specimens have been known to get about 12 feet tall, but most individuals top out at 6-8 feet high. Plants branch out at the base, normally taking up about a 5-6' footprint. The flower stalk grows to nearly three feet tall and is covered with small (for a Yucca), white flowers in the summer.

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Katherine Gierlach