Yucca grandiflora

Accession Count: 0
Common Name: Sahuiliqui
Family Name: Asparagaceae
Botanical Name: Yucca grandiflora
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Cultivar:
Characteristics:
Compound: Yuc gra
Geographic Origin: Mexican Mountains
Ecozone Origin: Nearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: Yucca grandiflora is native to the mountains and foothills in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in Mexico. Its range is primarily in eastern Sonora with small populations in western Chihuahua(1). It has a fairly limited natural distribution and is not widespread in its native habitat(2). Y. grandiflora grows on slopes and ridges at an elevation of 2500-4500 ft. It is found among oaks at higher elevations and down into desert scrub and thorn scrub areas(3). The plant is an arborescent species that can grow up to twenty feet tall. It occasionally has a few branches at the base and often is branched at the top(2). The thick, stiff leaves are dark green and are 2-3 feet long with some leaves growing up to 5 feet in mature plants. The leaves are 2 inches wide and narrow to a solid, dark brown terminal spine(3). The leaf margins bears thin, straight filaments. The upper surface of the leaves are smooth and have a consistent and refined appearance(2). Straw colored dead leaves cling to the trunk forming a skirt(4) giving the plant a fuzzy appearance. The leaves, stem and roots contain saponins which are toxic when injested(2). Y. grandifolia generates a 3 foot flower stalk in the spring that emerges directly above the head of leaves or tilted as much as 90 degrees toward one side. The large creamy white flowers are 3-4 inches long(2). The scientific name Y. grandiflora refers to the large flowers the plant produces. The large flowers also produce large, fleshy fruit. The fruit has been documented as large as 8 inches long and 2 inches wide(3) and weighing up to 2 pounds(2). 
Cultivation Notes: Yucca grandiflora makes an engaging specimen with its large size and refined appearance, yet new in ornamental horticulture so its cultural requirements are not well known(2). It performs well in full sun and well-drained soil in a variety of climates. Y. grandiflora is known to thrive in the cool Mediterranean climate of southern California and the hot, dry deserts near Phoenix(2). Supplemental irrigation during the summer months will help its appearance in the hottest and driest climates(2). Y. grandiflora is being cultivated in Southern Arizona and is frost-hardy in Tucson(3). Propagate by rhizome division and removal of basal offsets(5) as well as seed(2).
Ethnobotany: Yucca grandiflora large fruit has been a favorite of indigenous people in the desert Southwest and Mexico. The huge fruit can weigh up to 2 pounds and up to 8 inches long(2). It is described as “sweet like a banana”(3) and is better tasting when roasted. The fruit is quite bitter until it is ripe(3). Yucca flowers can also as a dye for fibers. Alum, copper and unmordanted material produce green shades; chrome and tin mordants yield gold shades, iron for tan shades(6).

Height: 16 - 20 feet
Width: 6 - 10 feet
Growth Rate: Slow Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: Spring
Color: White
Function: Accent
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

Citations:
  1. Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assesment
  2. Irish, Mary, and Gary Irish. Agaves, yuccas, and related plants: a gardener's guide. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2000. Print.
  3. Felger, Richard Stephen, and Matthew Brian Johnson. The Trees of Sonora, Mexico. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.
  4. Eggli, Urs. Illustrated handbook of succulent plants: Monocotyledons. Berlin: Springer, 2001. Print.
  5. Dave's Garden
  6. McPherson, Alan, and Sue McPherson. Edible & Useful Wildplants of the Urban West: Medicinal, Edible, Dye, & Landscape Uses for the Wildplants of Denver & other Western Cities. Boulder, Colo.: Pruett Pub. Co., 1979. Print.
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Yucca grandiflora