Dasylirion wheeleri

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Dasylirion wheeleri
Dasylirion wheeleri 1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Dasylirion
Species: D. wheeleri
Binomial name
Dasylirion wheeleri
S. Watson ex Rothrock

Dasylirion wheeleri (desert spoon, spoon flower, or common sotol) is a flowering plant native to arid environments of northern Mexico, in Chihuahua and Sonora and in the southwestern United States, in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, and also in New Mexico and Texas.

Description[edit]

Dasylirion wheeleri is a moderate to slow-growing evergreen shrub with a single unbranched trunk up to 40 cm (16 in) thick growing to 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) tall, though often recumbent on the ground. The leaf blade is slender, 35-100 cm long, gray-green, with a toothed margin. The leaves radiate from the center of the plant's apex in all directions (spherical).

The flowering stem grows above the foliage, to a height of 5 m (16 ft) tall, and 3 cm in diameter. The stem is topped by a long plume of straw-colored small flowers about 2.5 cm long with six tepals. The color of the flower determinate the gender of the plant, being mostly white colored for males and purple-pink for females plants. The fruit is an oval dry capsule 5-8 mm long, containing a single seed.

Flower stem of the Desert Spoon plant

Cultivation and uses[edit]

D. wheeleri is grown as an ornamental plant, valued in xeriscaping. As it does not tolerate extended frosts, in temperate regions it is usually grown under glass. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[1]

The drink sotol is made from the desert spoon. It was also used by the natives of the region for food and fiber. Its flower stalk can be used as a fire plow.[2]

The Tarahumara and Pima Bajo peoples of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua weave baskets from the leaves after they strip off the spines from the leaf margins. They also employ the expanded leaf bases in making large artificial flowers as holiday decorations. [3][4]

Decorative flowers made from leaf bases of sotol, Darylirion wheeleri, Yepachi, Chihuahua

References[edit]

  1. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Dasylirion wheeleri". Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Thomas J. Elpel Fire Plow Sets for Primitive Fire Making
  3. ^ Laferrière, Joseph E., & Willard Van Asdall. 1991. Plant use in Mountain Pima holiday decorations. Kiva 57:27-38.
  4. ^ Pennington, CW. 1963. The Tarahumar of Mexico, their material culture. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City

External links[edit]