The Delights and Perils of the Spanish Dagger


When it’s ready to throw up its March bloom, the Spanish Dagger’s magnificent flower always comes out on top. The thick-leaf yucca found in Texas and the southwest is a Yucca treculeana—more commonly known as a Spanish dagger. Though its fibrous sharp dagger-like leaf is poisonous, its flower is as edible as it is surprising to behold. The Spanish dagger’s flower stalk begins as its fruit, and resembles a giant asparagus at first. Upon blooming, it’s actually a mass of many lily-like flowers. It blooms for but a short time, and then as though the effort was much too great for it, the stalk dies.

Timing is everything. One can acquire patience and prudence with a Spanish dagger in an Austin front yard. In far south Texas, where they populate the wild chaparral and brush country, they bloom with abandon (once) as far as the eye can see. So one need not play the waiting game there, though the yucca’s sharp-tipped bayonet leaves, capable of inflicting unfortunate wounds, demand respect anywhere.  

Austin’s Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center offers excellent resources for Texas natives like the Spanish dagger, and is a treat to visit when in Austin. For the many amazing uses of the yucca, from housing materials to toxic arrows to laxatives, refer to Texas Beyond History. See more images like this (including more spring wildflowers in Texas), and shop for my prints, in Naturescapes.

 

10 replies

  1. It’s always interesting to me, being a gardener, to native species in their proper spaces and places. Here, we can only plant another type of Yucca – can’t remember which – and quite frankly, I think they are more hassle than worth; flowering every once in a few years, messy and razor sharp leaves, etc. Truly, they really don’t belong, but people are fascinated by them. Personally, it lifts my spirits to see images of them as they should be – happy and content in their proper place. Thanks for sharing Jann.

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    • What a nice comment, and a nice way to look at it, Pat. They are fascinating to me–I never had laid eyes on one before I moved here a decade ago. Didn’t even know they existed before that. Clearly Texas is calling you to visit–but watch out if you do come, it might just call you to live here (as it did me)! Thanks for stopping by and for giving some feedback.

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      • Well one never quite knows where one will end up – but I’m glad that you’re finding inspiration and interest in your “newish” surroundings 🙂

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