Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Twistleaf yucca flowers with clouds

with 29 comments

Twistleaf Yucca Flowers with Clouds 3938

In April you saw a landscape view of some yucca plants flowering above a roadside cliff, but I feel I owe you a closer look at blossoms in this genus. Here, then, is a twistleaf yucca, Yucca rupicola, that I photographed in Leander on June 1st. In a post from 2012 I offered up a visual confirmation of the name twistleaf, but today is the first time you’re getting a detailed look at the flowers of that species, which happens to be endemic to central Texas.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 2, 2015 at 3:33 AM

29 Responses

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  1. That cloud certainly happened by at an opportune time. Near mimic.

    Steve Gingold

    July 2, 2015 at 5:10 AM

    • As the aligner (by my movement and my positioning of the camera) of the yucca and cloud, I’ll take some of the credit for the (near) mimicry that the photograph plays up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2015 at 5:16 AM

  2. Aren’t they lovely? Giant bells. Or elf caps 😉


    July 2, 2015 at 5:38 AM

    • I’ve often enough heard flowers likened to bells, but I think this is the first time I’ve run across “elf caps” as a floral description. Since you’ve brought up caps, I’ll point you to a very different native wildflower that we have here, one known colloquially as Turk’s cap:


      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2015 at 5:46 AM

      • Stunning! Though I was expecting a different type of flower (is this one a sort of hibiscus?) but I can see the turban.


        July 2, 2015 at 9:38 AM

        • Turk’s cap and hibiscus are both in the mallow family, so you were right to suspect a relationship. The genus for Turk’s cap is Malvaviscus, where Malva is the Latin word that English has borrowed as mallow (Latin v was pronounced like English w).

          Based on the last words in your comment, I’ll add that when Turk’s cap grows within the Austin city limits, each flower is an urban turban.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 2, 2015 at 11:41 AM

          • I was thinking of the Turk’s cap lily – Martagon Lily – but I love the idea of urban turbans 🙂


            July 2, 2015 at 4:56 PM

            • According to Wikipedia: “The specific epithet martagon is a Turkish word which also means turban or cap.” If you can think of anything that rhymes with martagon you’re smartagoner than I am.

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 2, 2015 at 5:44 PM

  3. That’s nice. The flowers are very pretty, aren’t they? They look very similar to the flowers of the yucca I see planted here.


    July 2, 2015 at 6:23 AM

    • It’s common in my area to find twistleaf yucca plants with a bare stalk that ends abruptly because deer have eaten the flowers. Luckily for me, I’ve seen more yucca flowers surviving this year than normal, perhaps because the unusually abundant rain has produced more choice vegetation than the deer can consume.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2015 at 6:58 AM

      • That is lucky. It is all well and good to bring back deer, but we desperately need our predators as well.


        July 2, 2015 at 7:08 AM

        • Mountain lions once commonly roamed this part of Texas, but I’ve never seen one. A Texas Parks and Wildlife web page says this: “In Texas, the Mountain Lion is found throughout the Trans-Pecos, as well as the brushlands of south Texas and portions of the Hill Country. Sighting and kill reports indicate that Mountain Lions now occur in more counties than they did 10 years ago and appear to be expanding their range into central Texas.” Every so often in the Austin area someone claims to have seen one, but I’m not aware of any of those claims that have gotten validated.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 2, 2015 at 7:22 AM

  4. This looks very bridal to me. I went searching to see if it featured in wedding bouquets. I found this; not a bouquet but a breakfast. http://newlifeinbelize.weebly.com/june-2014/june-08th-2014


    July 2, 2015 at 6:59 AM

    • I’ve heard of yucca flowers being edible but haven’t yet gone out and harvested some to see what I might cook up.

      Your phrase “not a bouquet but a breakfast” is pleasantly alliterative. I don’t know how long yucca flowers stay fresh after a stalk of them gets cut off, so I also don’t know if your notion of yucca bridal bouquets is feasible. You’re still free to imagine it, of course, and there’s nothing to prevent a couple from getting married in nature next to a flowering yucca plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2015 at 7:15 AM

    • I’ve never heard they are edible! I’m going to pluck some to try. If you don’t hear from me again, you’ll have your answer 😊

      Sammy D.

      July 2, 2015 at 9:18 AM

      • You may want to check online for recipes (and any words of caution). You might also have your will set out in a conspicuous place, just in case.

        Steve Schwartzman

        July 2, 2015 at 11:33 AM

        • LOL I wouldn’t bring myself to actually pick any. I’m not 100% good about this (because I do slip small rocks in my pocket as momentos) but I try not to destroy plants other than when I need to step forward for a closer look 😀

          Sammy D.

          July 2, 2015 at 2:02 PM

      • They’re very good in salads, and some people pickle them. Give them a gentle wash with cool water, and you’re good to go. I’ve eaten plenty, and while some think I’m brain-impaired, I am still alive.


        July 7, 2015 at 7:51 AM

  5. I love our yuccas – posted a photo of that & Indian paintbrush last week!

    Sammy D.

    July 2, 2015 at 9:16 AM

    • Yes, I see your photo here:

      They’re different species from the ones in central Texas, but they look similarly appealing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 2, 2015 at 11:30 AM

  6. Wonderful photo!


    July 2, 2015 at 9:11 PM

  7. I recall that earlier post. Thanks for the follow-up. Are these pale green? Off-white?

    Birder's Journey

    July 5, 2015 at 8:44 AM

  8. I was in and around Matagorda over the weekend, and the yuccas (Y. treculeana) were thick with blossoms. A shopkeeper with many around her building was bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t get the twistleaf to flourish. She called it “a very friendly yucca” — as opposed to the local variety that’s also known as Spanish dagger.


    July 7, 2015 at 7:54 AM

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