USA Official State Flower Official New Mexico State Flower

Yucca Flower

(Yucca glauca)
Adopted on March 14, 1927.

 

New Mexico school children labored months on considering the state's flowers. Finally, they favored the yucca, Yucca glauca. It was seconded by the New Mexico Federation of Women's Clubs and was officially adopted on March 14, 1927.

Glauca is the Latin word for "greenish-grey." New Mexico's state flower is in fact a plant native to the deserts of the Southwest.

 

The yucca is also known as the "Lamparas de dios" which translates to "Lamps of the Lord" due to the bright mass of white flowers that protrude from a center stalk within the plant. The Dakota Indian name for it is Hupestula; Omahas and Poncas call it Duwaduwa-hi; Pawnees know it as Chakida-kahtsuor Chakila-kahtsu. Its needle-sharp leaves have given it the common name, Spanish bayonet.

 

Also called "soapweed", "beargrass", and "Spanish bayonet", yucca is mostly found south and west of the Missouri River in North Dakota. The plant grows from southeastern Alberta south to Missouri, Texas, and New Mexico at elevations up to 8,500 ft.

 

The yucca is not only an attractive plant; it is has also been an important resource in past decades as its roots and palm-like leaves provided materials for the making of soap and baskets for those residing in the Southwest. Yucca is included in the agave family (Agavaceae) which contains about 600 species arid regions of the world. Members of this family are noted for the production of fiber (e.g. sisal) and alcoholic drinks (tequila, pulque, and mescal). The genus Yucca contains about 40 species, the most famous being the Joshua tree which reaches 30 feet tall in the Mohave desert.

  • Description: Yucca is perennial from a fibrous horizontal or upright stem bearing one or more erect crowns. Acaulescent shrub with long stiff evergreen leaves radiating from a basal rosette.
  • Leaves: Sharp-tipped leaves up to two feet long are rounded on the back and have inrolled margins bearing white filaments. The leaves contain tough fibers. Flattened or inrolled, stiff, 40-70 cm (16-28 in) long and about 1 cm (0.4 in) wide at base, spiny at apex, glaucous green with greenish white margins often becoming filiferous.
  • Inflorescence: A raceme.
  • Flowers: Ten to fifteen flowers form along a spike about three feet long. Flowers are greenish-white and up to 2 1/2 inches long. Numerous, large, with 3 petaloid sepals and 3 petals, greenish-white or purplish.
  • Fruits: At maturity, the large capsules enclose long black seeds. Oblong-cylindrical capsules 4.5-6 cm (1.8-2.4 in) long.
  • Root: The root can be several inches in diameter and descend up to 20 feet.
  • Habitat: Prefers dry, rocky slopes.

 

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta -- Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta -- Flowering plants
Class Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Subclass Liliidae –
Order Liliales –
Family Agavaceae – Century-plant family
Genus Yucca L. – yucca
Species Yucca glauca Nutt. – soapweed yucca