Family: Agavaceae – Agave Family
Yucca is the only genus from this family represented at Arches National Park; Succulent or subsucculent, perennial; monocot
Leaves: parallel veined; basal; simple; stiff, long, sharp-pointed leaves; strong fibers in leaves; 3.9” to 1.6' (1 to 5 dm) long, 0.28” to 1.6” (0.7 to 4 cm) wide
Flowers: 3 bell-shaped (white to cream to greenish and tinged with purple) petals; 3 white or green sepals; 6 stamens; 3 stigmas; perfect; flowers 1.6” to 2.4” (4 to 6 cm) long, 0.64” to 1.4” (1.6 to 3.5 cm) wide
Pollinators: yucca moth
Fruits: Large seed pods – dry capsule
Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May, June
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub, grassland and pinyon-juniper communities
Location seen: widespread, Park Avenue, park road mile 7, Windows, Devils Garden, park road approximately mile 6 to 8
Other: The genus name, “Yucca”, is a Caribbean name for a totally different plant. The species name, “harrimaniae”, honors Mr. Edward Henry Harriman (a railroad tycoon) and Mrs. Mary Harriman, philanthropists who funded collecting expeditions. Mr. Edward Henry Harriman organized and led the Harriman Alaska Expedition in 1899 taking his whole family along. This plant was named for Mrs. Harriman.
This plant has a deep taproot (at least 30' long).
Yucca used to be in the Liliaceae (Lily) family.
Did You Know?
Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches in the late 1950s. His 1968 memoir of this experience, "Desert Solitaire," has become a classic of desert literature.