Thursday, June 07, 2012

Whippled by Whipplei

Would you believe that all four plants in the photo below are all Yucca whipplei? Two of them are even from the same batch of seeds...

We are family!

The weather has been largely rainy here over the past few days and in between showers I was able to pot and re-pot some of my succulents. Some are new purchases whilst others are just long overdue a transfer into a bigger container so they will continue to grow well. Yesterday I featured the re-potting of an Aloe polyphylla but about the same period I did that I also re-potted several Agaves and Yuccas.

Another group shot. And yes, I must sweep the patio once the rain dries up!
I have a small collection of select succulents and I'm a so called 'passive' Yucca collector. Passive in a way that I pick up different types I find on nursery visits, but never trawl the net nor looks around for the sole purpose of finding every possible Yucca out there that is available to buy. Plus I only get what I find attractive rather than just trying to add to the list.

But as we both enjoy nursery visits my collection increases steadily too!

Yucca whipplei #1 - very stiff, glaucous leaves, looking almost like an agave. I have a smaller one of this that is just as stiff and vicious!
Despite the differences in appearance I don't have a reason to doubt (yet) that some of them are not Yucca whipplei (syn. Hesperoyucca) at all (it helps if you buy from reputable nurseries and nurserymen). It's more of the case of trying to figure out what subspecies each individual turns out to be. The joys of plant identifying and botanical naming! It does give me more incentive though in finding out more about this plant and learning more about the genus, species, subspecies, and anything else in between (and perhaps maybe someone out there can help me out?).

Yucca whipplei #2 - blue green, more lax leaves with a slight twist
Yucca whipplei #3 - leaves much more glaucous than #2, stiffer and more upright with no twist to the leaves
Yucca whipplei #4 - very short, stubby glaucous leaves forming a small rosette. This and #3 are from the same batch of seeds! There's also the seeds were mixed along the way....
Whilst on the subject of seedling variations, these two Agave montanas are from the same plant hence same batch of seeds as this Agave is monocarpic (dies after flowering). Sown and germinated at the same time and grown in the same conditions too. Yet you can clearly see the difference...
And in it's own little way, this group of plants highlights how wonderfully diverse plants are. That even if they share the same name they can still have some differences unique from each other.

Mark :-)


  1. They might also be hybrids. I grew Yucca whipplei many years ago and the only one of your seedlings that really resembles the plant I grew (and lost) is number 3. Early days, of course, and they could still change as they mature.

    Well done for getting them to that stage. They'll all be garden ornaments as they grow.

  2. Wow, I have never seen such variation in Hesperoyucca whipplei. It'll be interesting to see if these differences begin to disappear as the plants mature. The Hesperoyucca whipplei I've seen in the wild in Southern California feature very stiff leaves (usually quite glaucous in color) arranged in symmetrical rosettes.

    My Agave montana looks just like your larger one on the left. The one on the right resembles the Agave ghiesbreghtii I bought recently. But again, many agave species show a great deal of variation.

  3. Very interesting. I was also interested in your definition of a 'passive' collector. I think that fits me, too! Now I feel so much better having all these roses in my garden! I'm passive! :)

  4. That's a possibility John. I am meaning to plant out one or two of them but it's best if I grow it on a bit more first. The few reports I've heard regarding its hardiness has been good so but hardiness does increase with the size of the plant.

    Hi Gerhard, it'll be interesting to see how these small plants will develop, if they do indeed look the same eventually (two of them at least). I saw an Agave ghiesbreghtii on the London show a few months ago, should have got one as it's a good size for the price.

    Hi Holley, I think we're similar in that way too :) Collecting Yuccas don't cross my mind until I visit nurseries, but then again we visit nurseries a lot! I like the way how architectural (and tough!) some Yuccas can be.


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