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Dasylirion wheeleri – Desert Spoon

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Scientific Name

Dasylirion wheeleri S.Watson ex Rothr.

Common Names

Desert Spoon, Spoon Yucca, Spoon Flower, Common Sotol, Blue Sotol, Grey Desert Spoon

Synonyms

Dasylirion wheeleri var. wheeleri

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Dasylirion

Description

Dasylirion wheeleri is an evergreen, long-lived plant with long, gray, strap-shaped, serrated leaves on a stout, short trunk that can rise up to 6 feet (1.8 m) and the spread can be about the same. The leaves are up to 3 feet (90 cm) long, narrow, blue-gray, with sharp, serrated margins and a spoon-shaped base that gives the plant one of its common name. These leaf bases remain on the trunk giving it a rough appearance. Flowering occurs only every few years with tiny flowers (this is a dioecious plant bearing flowers of one sex or the other) on stout spikes up to 15 feet (4.5 m) tall from the center of the leaf rosette in early summer. The color of the flower determinate the gender of the plant, being mostly white colored for males and purple-pink for females. After flowering the rosette branches at the base of the inflorescence to replace the flowering rosette and enabling the stem to continue to grow on.

How to Grow and Care

Dasylirions are one of the most ornamental of the desert landscape plants commonly available in cultivation.

These are all pretty easy plants to grow if you have the right climate – hot and dry. They need very little water, but extra water is almost always appreciated as long as it’s not directly on the crown (can cause rotting that way) even though rainfall does not seem to have the same deleterious effect as tap water on the crowns.

These plants do well in pots, too. Though drought tolerant, these plants will undergo some marked root shrinkage and die off in extremely dry, airy soil, making them less stable and easy to uproot. Some fertilizer, particular water-based or very slow release would be fine.

Origin

Native to arid environments of northern Mexico, in Chihuahua and Sonora and in the southwestern United States, in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, and also in New Mexico and Texas.

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