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DASYLIRION berlandieri

Image of Dasylirion berlandieri

James Burghardt

Family

Agavaceae

Botanical Name

DASYLIRION berlandieri

Plant Common Name

Blue Giant, Blue Twister, Desert Spoon, Zaragosa

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

This genus of 18 semi-succulent species is little known outside the desert Southwest. These truly striking plants are native to the southern United States and Mexico, closely resembling both yuccas and agaves. They are found in very arid lands, along dry washes and on rocky hillsides where soils are porous and extremely well drained. In their region of origin no rain may fall for ten months or more, and these plants have adapted to surviving such extended drought.

The plants of Dasylirion produce enormous rosettes of foliage that is narrow, often stiff, and serrated at the edges. Some species are significantly barbed while others are smooth. Leaves may be just the width of a kebob skewer or flat and ribbon like, blue in color and slightly twisted. Over time the plants develop hefty trunks that may be left natural with their cloak of dead dry leaves or pruned clean for a more architectural form.

These plants bloom often but not every year. They are diecious, which means male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. When flowering they send up rigid stalks to the height of a one-story rooftop. The upper half to third is thickly covered pale yellow hooked blossoms that are pollinated by a wide range of day and night flying insects. After flowering the dried stalks are coveted for grouping in decorative urns.

Only a few species of Dasylirion are commonly grown, but these can be remarkably drought, heat and cold tolerant. The most significant in the modern design world is the hemispherical wiry Dasylirion longissimum. Valued for its flat blue leaves, Dasylirion wheeleri is preferred as an outdoor landscape plant for desert gardens with a cast iron constitution. The green desert spoon, Dasylirion acrotriche of Mexico is preferred for its coloring which lends a more lush character to the garden.

All Dasylirion species are growing in popularity as a drought resistant landscape plant well beyond the desert environment. Provided soils are well drained and there is little summer rain they should be widely adaptable. The common name, desert spoon, is derived from the leaves which, when plucked from the stalk bear a spoon-shaped base used by Native Americans. They also utilized the fibrous leaves to weave baskets, mats and other useful objects.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    12 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    9'-15' / 2.7m - 4.6m

  • Width

    6'-12' / 1.8m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    Southwestern United States, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Dried Flower/Everlasting, Feature Plant, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No