A-Z of botany: y

yucca-gigan

Y has presented a problem, so I will cheat with a plant instead – yucca. Yuccas are American, with many from Central America. Perhaps the most famous is the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) although Yucca gloriosa is the most common in UK gardens, being hardy and dramatic. Yuccas all have narrow, bayonet-like foliage but they may have upright trunks or creeping stems so the rosettes of leaves look stemless. They have showy, creamy white, bell-shaped flowers.

The genus yucca was named by Linnaeus but he got the name wrong – the name was an old Carib name for cassava (manihot) that was grown on those islands and when the first yuccas were discovered by the West he gave yuccas the wrong name since cassava is nothing to do with the plants we call yuccas.

Yuccas have a very close relationship with special moths that pollinate the flowers. The female moths have special mouthparts that enable them to collect and roll the pollen into balls which they then push onto the stigma to pollinate the flowers. Of course she doesn’t do this for the good of her health, but rather the good of her children because she then lays eggs in the ovary. The grubs then eat the developing seeds but not all of them. So the moth can be sure of having healthy offspring and the yucca can be sure to produce some healthy seeds – a win all round.

Despite what I used to think, these seed-munching larvae are not the Mexican jumping beans. I used to buy these every now and then as a child and the ‘beans’ that were curved on one side and flat on the other would move when warmed. They are the seeds of a shrub called Sebastiana pavoniana (native to Mexico) and inside the jumping beans is a larva of a moth. The larvae eat the contents of the ‘bean’ and when they fall to the ground the larvae twitch so that the ‘beans’ move from ares in sun where it is hot, into shade. That is why the beans jump when they are warm and stop when they are cool. Then the larvae pupate, ready to hatch out as an adult moth.

 

 

 

 

One Comment on “A-Z of botany: y”

  1. derrickjknight
    December 20, 2016 at 9:00 am #

    I think you had no option 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

IGPS Blog

The Irish Garden Plant Society - Lovers of Irish plants and gardens

AltroVerde

un altro blog sul giardinaggio...

vegetablurb

four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!

Flowery Prose

Growing words about writing, gardening, and outdoors pursuits in Alberta, Canada.

ontheedgegardening

Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I am a freelance Photographer born and raised in the Southeast. I have uprooted my life in Macon Georgia for a new life as an unlikely cowgirl in love with a handsome cowboy in Wyoming. I hope you enjoy my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

The world's leading garden plant conservation charity

HERITAGE IRISES

An English experience of gardening in Ireland - and back in the UK

%d bloggers like this: