Yucca rostrata or Beaked Yucca is a tree-like plant belonging to the genus Yucca. This succulent is native to southern U.S.A. and northern Mexico.
It is a beautiful desert yucca that stores water in its leaves. Its spherical head of blue-gray leaves atop an unbranched trunk makes a striking appearance. It is very frost resistant once well established (-28 °C).
It is very difficult to distinguish Yucca rostrata from some other species of Yucca because they readily hybridize. Identification must be made on the basis of flowers because it is impossible to tell them apart based on the aspect of the plant or the leaves.
It can be grown in the garden or in pots. Growth is very slow.
The leaves grow at the top of the trunk, from the center. Each leaf is 40-70 cm long and 1 to 1.5 cm wide.
The leaves are blue-gray, contributing to the striking appearance of the plant.
The plant produces a flower stalk at the top of the stem. The flower stem is about 110 cm tall with a plume of 60 cm bearing white fleshy flowers. Flowering occurs in spring.
Beaked Yucca, Big Bend Yucca
Yucca linearis, Yucca rostrata var. linearis
Yucca is a name from Central and South America designating cassava, descended from the Spanish yuca or juca (late 15th century), which in turn probably comes from the Taino, the original language of Haiti.
Rostrata is derived from a Latin word meaning mouth or nose.
Southern U.S.A. and northern Mexico
Yucca rostrata grows on gentle slopes and limestone ledges.
USDA zones 5-11, -28 °C
Sandy and very well drained
Yucca rostrata can safely be left outdoors all year round, provided it spends the winter in very dry conditions.
Even as a houseplant or patio plant, it grows well.
It dies around -15 °C to -28 °C, depending on humidity. In wet conditions, cold tolerance is greatly reduced.
If it remains outside, it should not have extra water, it is extremely drought resistant.
Inside you give water sparingly: every 2-3 weeks, from 1 to 3 glasses of water, depending on the size of the plant.
Fertilize in spring with fertilizer pellets. It releases nutrients faster at higher temperatures and more slowly at low temperatures.
Some people prefer to remove the dead leaves so the trunk is exposed, but in nature the leaves stay hanging on the trunk and form a skirt.
After blooming the flower stem falls of the plant and leaves an open wound on the trunk. If the weather is wet, this can cause rotting of the trunk. The wound should then be covered with cement or putty healing.
Every 4-5 years, when the roots become too large for the pot. Do this in the spring so the plant has all summer to grow.
Yucca rostrata can reproduce by seed and suckers. Sowing is easy, but germination very irregular.
- sow in a very sandy mix and moisten
- cover the seeds with a thin layer of substrate
- 20-25 °C (room temperature)
- germination time: 1 month to 1 year
- germination percentage: 80 %