Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Yucca rostrata, Beaked Yucca,

Beaked Yucca has large beautiful flowers on a long 2 to 3 foot (.6 to .9 m) stalk. Yuccas are members of the Agave family which has recently been changed to the Asparagaceae family. Yucca rostrata Beaked Yucca flowers emerge from within the rosette of leaves and young plants flower before the trunk is visible. This species may grow up to 12 feet (3.6 m) tall. Yucca rostrata Beaked Yucca has erect dry egg-shaped fruits splitting at maturity. The fruits are technically called a capsule. This species is tree-like with a truck that measures 5 to 8 inches (12.7 to 20.3 cm) in diameter. Yucca rostrata

Scientific Name: Yucca rostrata (Yucca thompsoniana)
Common Name: Beaked Yucca

Also Called: Big Bend Yucca, Palmita, Soyate, Thompson Yucca, Tompson's Yucca, Trans-Pecos Yucca

Family: Agavaceae, Agave or Century Plant Family (Reclassified to Asparagaceae)

Synonyms: (Yucca rostrata var. integra, Yucca rostrata var. linearis, Yucca thompsoniana)

Status: Native to Texas.

Duration: Perennial

Size: 6 to 12 feet (2.5 to 3.6 m) not including the flowering stock (inflorescence); large diameter 7 to 12.5 inches (17.7 to 31.7 cm).

Growth Form: Treelike, truck measures 5 to 8 inches (12.7 to 20.3 cm) in diameter; arborescent; plants solitary or may form colonies of rosettes; plants caulescent; rosettes with 100 plus leaves; stems or main trunk 1 or more, erect, mostly without branches but may have 1 to 3 branches.

Leaves: Green or blue grey (glaucous); 8 to 24 inches (20.3 to 60.9 cm) long and about ½ inches (1.27 cm) wide, leaves narrow, stiff, smooth and margins are minutely denticulate and sometimes called horny, leaves pale yellow, leaves spine-tipped; leaves about 1/2 inches wide in or beyond the middle, leaves emerge at the top of the trunk thereby extending trunk growth.

Flower Color: White, large and beautiful, inflorescence a 2 to 3 foot (.60 to .91 m) paniculate emerging from within or beyond the rosettes; flowers before trunk develops and after, flowers pendulous; fruits erect, dry egg-shaped capsule, dehiscent.

Flowering Season: March through May

Elevation: 2,500 feet (762 m)

Habitat Preferences: Dry exposed rocky mountain slopes, canyon bottoms.

Recorded Range: In the United States, Beaked Yucca is found only in Brewster County, Texas, northern Mexico Chihuahua and Coahuila.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Yucca rostrata; as Yucca thompsoniana.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 28 species and 45 accepted taxa overall for Yucca. World wide, The Plant List includes 49 accepted species names and includes a further 196 infraspecific rank for the genus. The genus Yucca was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 8 species of Yucca, California has 3 species, Nevada has 5 species, New Mexico has 10 species, Texas has 18 species, Utah has 7 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There is 1 variety in Yucca rostrata;
Yucca rostrata var. linearis, (Brewster, County TX).
Yucca rostrata var. integra, (synonym only)

Comments: According to The Flora of North America, Yucca rostrata is restricted to Brewster County, Texas. It is closely related to Yucca thompsoniana which is perhaps just a northern variant of this species. USDA Plants Database recognizes it as Y. thompsoniana. Beaked Yucca is a handsome species that typically remains in good form without the need for pruning as with many other Yuccas. This species may be grown from root rhizomes.
Beaked Yucca was first collected in Mexico (Chihuahua) by John Bigelow in 1852 and later described by William Trelease in 1911.

In Southwestern Desert Flora also see: Banana Yucca, Yucca baccata; Blue Yucca, Yucca rigida Eve's Needle, Yucca faxoniana; Joshua Tree, Yucca brevifolia and Soaptree Yucca, Yucca elata.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
The sweet oblong fruits of Yucca species, and their seeds as well are fed on by birds, deer, small mammals and nectar-feeding bats.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Yucca's attract many butterflies, moths and insects however actually records appear absent for this species in particular. Yucca Moths of the genus Tegeticula are known to pollinate Yucca flowers. - Find out more from (BOMONA) Butterflies and Moths of North America.

The genus Yucca is from the Carib (Island Carib, South America) name for "manihot" or "cassava" which is a Euphorbia genus erroneously applied to the Yucca genus because of the lily-like appearance of the sword-like leaves. The genus Yucca was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

The species epithet "rostrata" is a reference to the shape of the fruit which has a beak-like appendage.

The fruit of many species of large members of the Yucca genus have been used as a food source, raw, roasted or dried and ground into meal. The plant leaves may also have been used as a fiber in basketry, cloth, mats, ropes and sandals.

Date Profile Completed: 01/05/2020
USDA Plants Database - (accessed 01/03/2020).
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 01/03/2020).
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 01/05/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
William J. Hess & R. Laurie Robbins, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 26 | Agavaceae | Yucca ; 9. Yucca rostrata Engelmann ex Trelease, Rep. (Annual) Missouri Bot. Gard. 13: 68, plates 40–42, plate 84, fig. 3, plate 93, fig. 2. 1902.Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Chris Martin, Professor and Head, Science and Mathematics Faculty, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts; Arizona State University; - as Yucca thompsoniana - (accessed 01/03/2020).
'Yucca thompsoniana', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 June 2018, 18:41 UTC, [accessed 5 January 2020]
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.

ETYMOLOGY: Michael L. Charters; California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology; (accessed 01/05/2020)
'Island Caribs', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 January 2020, 22:56 UTC, [accessed 5 January 2020]