Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chaparral Yucca or Our Lord's Candle

Chaparral yucca or our Lord's candle is a flowering plant that at times has been treated as part of the yucca family. The specimen below was found in the San Felipe Hills.
It is found in Southern California and Baja California. It has a stemless cluster of gray-green long rigid leaves that end in a sharp point, much like the datil yucca. In fact, it took quite a bit of reading for me to determine what it was as my research was focused on the datil yucca amd Mojave yucca.
Our Lord's candle has a single inflorescence or stem that grows extremely fast, from several feet to 21 feet, depending upon the subspecies. The specimen below was found in Mission Creek Canyon. It had just started to flower.
The specimen below in Borrego Palm Canyon is further along in the flowering process. Note that its leaves have much more purple in them than those in I saw in the San Felipe Hills.
Hundreds of elliptical (bell-shaped) white to purple flowers cover the upper half of the inforescence. The leaves below are from a chaparral yucca in the San Felipe Hills.
The next leaves, much more purple, are from a chaparral yucca in Borrego Palm Canyon.
The name our Lord's candle comes from the flame shaped inflorescence.
The fruit is a dry-winged capsule that opens at maturity to release seeds. It usually takes about five years to reach maturity at which point it dies. In that respect, it is more like an agave than a yucca.
However, it usually has offshoots from its base that continue to grow and reproduce. Like yucca, Indians used fiber from the leaves for sandals, rope and cloth. The seeds were roasted and eaten whole or ground into flour.  Below is a different specimen from the San Felipe Hills
and a close-up of the flowers.
Finally, a specimen from Whitewater Canyon near Red Dome.

1 comment:

  1. I live in Northern California. I've had this plant in the ground for 6 years and for the first time it sprouted a long stem that is now about 20" tall. Just last week it started blooming some white flowers. Pretty spectacular and it is the talk of the neighborhood. We don't usually see this in Northern California!