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Plant Popular for Good Reason

This article was first published on 01 Dec 2017.

Hesperoyucca whipplei

Hesperoyucca whipplei

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

Hesperoyucca whipplei is a plant with so much to offer. Formerly known as Yucca whipplei, this grey-green bundle of joy has long, rigid leaves ending with a very sharp point.

A compact low growing yucca, it comes from the southern states of northern America and Mexico. It has been used there as a fibre source and also a food by Native Americans roasting the unopened flower spikes overnight to remove any bitterness before eating.

Unhospitable conditions such as dry clay banks and sun baked soil is where this yucca grows best, making it a “must have” plant for any succulent garden. Yuccas visually pair well with other plants that thrive in equally unhospitable conditions such as grasses, sedums and euphorbias contrasting against yucca’s long slender foliage. Its sharp angles provide structure and interest in the garden and could even keep unwanted visitors at bay.

This yucca is really a sight to behold at the moment. It’s also worth sniffing the beautiful, sweet, vanilla-scented flowers. This monocarpic beauty isn’t long for this world, meaning it will die shortly after it’s flowered. At Dunedin Botanic Garden this incredible flower has been 24 years in the making since planting in 1993, but well worth the wait. See it in the Geographic Collection’s Mexican border, along the driveway above the aviary then first left down the hill.

Morgan Hampton is a third year horticultural apprentice at Dunedin Botanic Garden.