Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 18, 2012 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

Beside a wall surrounding a backstreet courtyard in Pisté there's a 15-ft-tall (4.5m) yucca growing, shown below:

Spanish Bayonet, YUCCA ALOIFOLIA

Yuccas, genus Yucca, are one group of plants most of us can recognize instantly without resorting to field marks. Their large, white flower clusters erupt atop tufts of stiff, sharp-pointed leaves, which themselves often arise atop slender, branched stems. Most North Americans are familiar with Joshua Trees of the US Desert Southeast; Joshua Trees are quintessential yuccas rather similar to the one in our picture.

A close-up showing our yucca's waxy, dangling, white flowers atop a branch's tuft of leaves is shown below:

Spanish Bayonet, YUCCA ALOIFOLIA, flowers

On the same plant, an old panicle bearing a single capsular fruit is seen below:

Spanish Bayonet, YUCCA ALOIFOLIA, fruit

This yucca goes by the English names of Spanish Bayonet and Dagger Plant. It's YUCCA ALOIFOLIA, native to the US coast from North Carolina to Louisiana, the Caribbean area and Mexico. It's "gone wild" in much of the US Southeast and elsewhere. Several cultivars have been developed, including 'Marginata' with yellow-margined leaves.

There's a similar yucca, known as the Spanish Dagger, Yucca gloriosa, native to US coastal areas from North Carolina to Florida, also much planted and escaped, and likely to be confused with our Spanish Bayonet. However, that species, Spanish Dagger, is more branched, presents an overall moundlike appearance instead of our plant's tall-standing one, plus its leaves are bluish-green instead of our plant's dark green.