If there is one plant guaranteed to wrap around the head of your weedeater and stop it cold, it is the long tough strands of yucca leaves (Yucca filamentosa). The plant has many redeeming qualities though and an interesting relationship with its one and only pollinator, the yucca moth (Tegticula maculata). In Virginia, the plant is just ending its annual bloom time so the yucca moth is likely visiting the sweet smelling blooms, transferring pollen and seeking choice blossoms to lay her eggs. She checks to see if any other females have visited the flower, and, if not, she lays an egg on the seeds which then become the food source for the caterpillars There are enough seeds to feed the babies so this symbiotic relationship works well for both plant and moth. After feeding, the caterpillars fall to the ground, burrow in and overwinter.
Yucca belong to the family Agavaceae, the same as agave which grows in Mexico. Indeed, the two look similar as they are both succulents and grow as rosettes their first year. They can flourish in arid conditions and withstand drought well. The yucca which is native to Virginia blooms every year and agave only blooms once, just prior to completing its life cycle.
For an unusual and dramatic plant, the yucca can make a statement in the landscape with its sculptural quality. Though this spring and summer has been very rainy in Virginia, the yucca is a good standby for years that are drier.
The Reading Corner
Where Naturalists Go To Get Ready For Spring!
Books - Click Here
Essays & Research - Click Here
Field Guides - Click Here
Virginia Native Plant Society Blog - click here
Have a blog or blog idea?
Let us know (click)
ORMN Class IX