Plant Guide > Trees > Yuccas



The traveller who is a close observer of trees will be astonished to find the lily family well represented in our Southern silva. Now, a lily is formed by the rule of three, as shown in the flower and in the seed pod. It has parallel-veined leaves and a stem with bundles of fibres distributed through its softer substance, much like the stems of corn or bamboo.

The yuccas are our arborescent lilies. There are nine species that attain the form and stature of trees. They are beautiful flowering trees, especially prized in countries of scant rainfall. They are planted for hedges. The fibrous leaves furnish material for ropes, mattings and baskets. The fleshy roots are used as a substitute for soap.


Allied to the mangroves and the myrtles, but like the yuccas in some particulars, and in choosing desert regions to live in, are the cacti, two genera of which have tree-like species in the United States. The soft stems of these trees are storehouses of moisture, as are also the fleshy branches. All green surfaces perform the functions of leaves. The spiny processes are the character by which most people recognise a cactus. The flowers are large and showy, formed into a tube by many overlapping sepals and petals. The fruit is a fleshy, many-seeded berry. The tree cacti are found in desert regions near the boundary between the United States and Mexico.

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