Yucca Plants and Their White Bell-Shaped Flowers

Big yucca plants with red poppies and spring wildflowers in foreground.

Most flowering cactus plants such as Claret Cups, Prickly Pears and Cholla get the attention. So in this post, it’s time to give Yucca plants some love. As a flowering succulent, they can be quite magnificent in their own right.

Generally I’d come across small yucca plants. You see them along hiking trails and growing happily in people’s yards. Being drought-tolerant, they do well in rocky gardens and can tolerate cold and snow. With upwards of 40–50 species, they are notable for their rosettes of green, tough, sword-shaped leaves. Lord knows I’ve been poked by their weaponry more than once when not paying attention!

Small plants aside, it’s the big ones which are almost tree-like in their size that have captured my attention. In the xeric gardens I frequent, there are two large locals that have made for an interesting backdrop while taking certain photos.

Making for Interesting Background Props

Big Tree-like yucca plants with red poppies in foreground.
Big Yucca plants with poppies in foreground.

Yuccas are not something I intentionally set out to photograph. It’s actually quite by accident. Since these two big plants share their space where the Oriental poppies bloom, they became background props.

With their big, radiating from a central point leaves, they act like sentries – keeping a watchful eye on the flowers that bloom around them throughout the seasons. Their thick bushy trunks make me think of grass hula skirts – sans the hip movement. They are quite stationary in their girth!

Ultimately when trying to photograph the poppies at certain angles, these Yuccas give a unique background texture as seen in the photos below.

Yucca Plant or Cousin Itt??

Yucca plant "Cousin It" look-a-like.
Yucca plant Cousin Itt look-alike!

During my early May trip to New Mexico, one of my designated visits was to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill. Between the sculptures throughout the gardens and whatever may be blooming, it’s always a worthy stop!

I was happily greeted by the blooming Hedgehog Claret Cups and to some rather unusual looking Yucca plants!

For anyone familiar with the old Addams Family TV series and or movies made and you’ll know who Cousin Itt is. Well while wandering around the gardens, I came across this stout Yucca plant and thought OMG, it’s Cousin Itt!! Some other folks were wandering by and I pointed out the Yucca’s resemblance to the TV character and we had a good laugh.

Nature mimicking a notable TV character – priceless!

There were more interesting Yucca plants to see around the gardens. Bummer that the light was rather flat. As it turns out, an impending rain storm was rolling in. So I’m grateful to have gotten these photos. I love the symmetry of how their long, straight succulent leaves radiate out from a single point. They are natural geometric forms.

Big alien looking yucca plant.
Big, alien looking yucca plant.

This big yucca plant gave me quite a chuckle. With its spent flower stems sticking out of the top it made me think of an alien character. Mind you this plant is HUGE!

For those of us who have seen the movie Monsters Inc., it definitely made me think of the big, hairy, blue character. I mean the more you look at the photo, the more I see different faces – even a nose.

It’s like an oval head with really long bangs covering the eyes. The perfectly placed, naturally occurring antenna are such a nice touch. Thank-you Nature!

Totally going to be dating myself on this one – but it brings back memories of the old black and white series from the early 1960s – “My Favorite Martian”. A classic!

Beautiful, White, Bell-Shaped Flowers

Yucca plants do flower usually in late spring to mid-summer. The large panicles of white bell-shaped flowers they produce are quite beautiful! Timing is definitely of the essence to capture photos of these blooms. Apparently some yucca plants flower every year while others are monocarpic…after several years of not flowering, they flower once and then die.

I was so happy to have captured photos of these Yucca flowers. They almost have a painterly quality which I love. The one with the little ladybug on patrol has become a favorite. The downside to these flowers is that aphids descend on them en mass! It’s almost criminal to see this happening. But thankfully the humble ladybug is an aphid consuming workhorse 🙂


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