The answer to yesterday’s Macro Monday was Beschorneria yuccoides, a rather uncommon plant but increasingly finding a place in gardens for its unusual and beautiful appearance. It is native to Mexico and was named after the German botanist Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Beschorner (1806-73), hence the mouthful of a name. The ‘yuccoides’ bit is fairly self explanatory – it looks like a yucca with its narrow, silvered, swordlike leaves. But there are three great advantages of this plant over any yucca: the leaves are not sharply tipped, it grows fairly quickly, and it usually flowers in early summer and not, as some ‘hardy’ yuccas are inclined to do, so late in autumn that the flowers get killed.
On the other hand, the flowers are not quite as showy as most yuccas and instead of large, white or creamy bells or lanterns you get rather slender, tubular flowers in green and red. But that really doesn’t matter because it is the whole inflorescence that packs the punch, from the other-worldly appearance of the developing spike to the pyramid of drooping flowers on the well branched stem, once the intermediate stage with those bright pink bracts have faded. In many ways it is a bit like a monstrous form of that favourite old houseplant, Billbergia nutans.
As might be expected, it likes full sun and a well drained soil. It will put up with a little shade but the plant will be a bit looser and the flower stems will go AWOL looking for the light. Once a rosette has reached maturity and flowered it dies but by then many replacement offsets will have been produced to flower in future years. It is just about hardy but if you live in a cold area it makes a great plant for a large pot, put into a cold greenhouse in winter. In leaf it is about 75cm high when well grown but the inflorescence can exceed 2m. It has no real pests or diseases to speak of but, like other ‘evergreen herbaceous’ plants, it is heartily recommended on Slipadvisor as a favourite destination for snails and other slimy pests.
There is a fabled variegated form called ‘Flamingo Glow” (also ‘Reality’ and ‘Colourwise’) which appeared as a sport in New Zealand in 2005. The leaves are variegated in creamy yellow and it is a gem. I have not seen it in the UK or Ireland or I would have it!
7/10 – not 100% hardy