Approximately twenty to thirty species of Yucca are found in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
They range from relatively small, trunkless species to tall, branched trees. Bear
grass is native to the southeastern United States, including the UNF
campus. The evergreen leaves are arranged in a rosette on the ground. As the
plant grows, more rosettes grow around the original creating a clump. Flowers
are white and bell-shaped on a tall spike. Pollination of the flowers is
unusual. A small white moth, the yucca moth, collects pollen and pushes it into
a special receptacle in the flower ensuring fertilization and the production of
seeds. Unlike most pollination, this is no accident. The moth will lay eggs on
the developing seed capsule. Its larvae eat part of the capsule but leave some
seeds so the plant can reproduce. The moth’s larvae feed on nothing but yucca
Flowers and fruits of some yucca species are eaten. Roots of
some species are used in the manufacturing of soap.
Wild plants can be found in drier natural areas around campus. Plants of the variegated variety, ‘Bright Edge’, can be seen on the west side of building 39.
Small shrubs with a short stem and leaves to about two to three feet long. The flower spike rises above the leaves, up to four to eight feet tall.
Light: full sun to part shade
Water: very drought tolerant once established, does not survive in wet sites
Soil: well-drained, low fertility, wide pH tolerance, no special requirements
This native is a decorative small plant for a well-drained
to dry garden. Bear grass grows well in full sun and will tolerate some shade.
It may be used as a small specimen plant or mixed into a perennial garden.
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