Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Yucca Highway…

Or as it’s more commonly known, Highway 10. The stretch in particular that I’m referring to is from Tucson, AZ to Deming, NM.

We first drove the Yucca Highway in 2007 and had never seen anything quite like it. It took us a few miles to realize exactly what it was we were gawking at. Yucca’s taller than any we’d seen before…and so many of them! They seemed to be marching along next to the highway, almost like they were traveling with us.
That trip was before we bought Sammy (our tall Yucca rostrata) and I remember the day we wandered into Cistus Nursery (almost a year later) and saw Sammy (along with his even taller brothers and sisters) and assumed he was the same type of Yucca as these. Chatting with Sean that afternoon he explained the Highway 10 Yucca were Y. elata and the ones at the nursery were Y. rostrata. A light went on in my head that afternoon; there were so many different kinds of Yucca! (I was just discovering my spiky destiny back then)
Last October as we headed out of Tucson, AZ, bound for T or C, NM, I knew exactly what lay ahead. I’d warned Andrew that we would be stopping for photo opportunities. There were short ones…

Medium ones…

And ones with tall expired blooms…

I found it impossible to not snap pictures as we sped by, knowing they’d be blurry but wanting to share the sheer quantity and impressive nature of the things.
At a rest-stop near Lordsburg, NM is this Historical Marker for Yucca Plains as well as a sign noting that the Yucca is the state flower of New Mexico (the Saguaro Cactus Blossom is the state flower of Arizona…the poor Agave gets stiffed again).
At the same rest-stop you must beware of snakes, and resist all temptation to solicit. Of course that begs the question of just exactly you might be soliciting in the middle of nowhere, but we won’t worry about that.
The best feature at the rest-stop were the Yuccas, planted for the up-close enjoyment of those not foolish enough to stop along the side of the Interstate.
Finally I am excited to report that at one of the photo-op stops I found a seed pod that hadn’t been emptied.
Something had bored through parts of it, leaving behind a precision drill hole…
Which also went right through the seeds (on the right), but there were a few healthy, in-tact seeds left to experiment with (on the left, and if anyone has hints for successful germination of Yucca seeds I would love to hear them).
So who knows, maybe in 20 or 30 years I could have my own little version of the Yucca Highway, right here in NE Portland!

24 comments:

  1. Those Yuccas at the side of the road look like alien critters! What an amazing sight, I love it. I once tried sowing yucca seeds, they were as hard as little rocks, and never sprouted (I was a novice sower back then). Conventional wisdom with other similar seeds with hard exteriors means they require either scarification, or soaking, or several freeze/thaw cycles.

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    1. They all had such personality with their twisting bent shapes. I'll try a little scarification on a couple of the seeds!

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  2. Oh yeah! Been there, done that, and then some. Am fortunate to see such scenes daily...but the Yucca Plains sign is new to me. I think there is a symbiotic relationship between roadrunners, guardrails, and Yucca elata! Hmmm, a post idea...

    Danger Botanic Garden & Mossy Cactus Ranch
    13204 Yucca Highway, Portland OR

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    1. You are fortunate to see such scenes daily, I'm glad they are not wasted on you.

      Love the name!

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  3. A yucca highway in NE Portland - what a treat for the neighborhood. And imagine how discombobulating it would be for the google street view. "Wha... ???"

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  4. Woah. Unless you have the smallest lap in the history of mankind those are some pretty impressive seeds! They really do look like they were marching along beside you. Reminds me of the first time I drove through SoCal and saw joshua trees. I thought they looked like creepy people.

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    1. While I am height challenged (and thus have short legs) I certainly cannot claim to have a small lap (something I never thought I would be discussing on my garden blog), so yes those are rather impressive seeds. Dead ringers for the Hesperaloe seeds I've collected in the past...which really isn't too surprising.

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  5. Fantasic series of photos from the Yucca Road!

    Like Alison mentions there is something alien like about so many yuccas in that environment. Such tough plants too, with a reasonable number hardy to quite low temperatures (fortunately for us!!).

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  6. They were calling out to you,"Hello!" seriously though, the large ones have a presence to them. You just know they've stood the test of time and their stature is a reminder so to speak. Love it!

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    1. I wish I could have gotten a couple of pictures that show just how close some of them were to the road. Most of these show the standard "set back" of empty space but in places they were practically touching the car!

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  7. They are pretty easy to germinate. You could probably sow them indoors covering with a light mix of screened 1/2 perlite or pumice 1/2 potting soil. Or sow in the greenhouse in late April/May. If you're back that way again in the fall, keep in mind seeds ripen later at high altitudes - that might get you better results with collecting. Yucca moth and other insects chewing through the seeds is pretty common.

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    1. Thanks for the confidence booster (easy to germinate)! I wish I knew when we'd be back that way again...probably not for a long while.

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  8. They really do look otherworldly, especially all line up like that! Love those crazy twisting bloom stalks in the first 2 photos!

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    1. Me too! I wonder why they ended up like that?

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  9. You make me want to go on another road trip to the desert! Maybe during spring break...

    Gerhard
    :: Bamboo and More ::

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    1. Thanks for the link! Beautiful photos.

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  10. Those pods and seeds are amazing..as tough as they seem (from comments) to germinate, it makes you wonder how they managed to spread so much along your Yucca Highway.

    And if Yucca elata is hardy here, I need it.

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    1. I just now found this comment. It was in the spam folder for some reason...and also didn't show up in the spam folder on the "new blogger interface" but only on the old one. What are they doing to us! Anyway yes...you do need one! I brought back a couple of babies from the in-laws place, if they live on (so far so good) and my seeds germinate you can have one. Maybe in 30 years it will be of size!

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  11. Oh, and I can't help it, I'm a member of the spelling police: That Yucca sign can't make up its (not it's) mind about the apostrophe. Two sentences have it, one does not. Who is proofing these very expensive Historic Markers, anyway?

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    1. Being a member of the spelling police (do you wear a badge?) it's a wonder you visit my blog with any regularity as I must frequently offend your sensibilities. Even spell check can't help me 100% of the time.

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  12. I planted about 200 yucca seeds into soil about 4 inches deep throughout my yard, its been two weeks and absolutely nothing - very saddened over it - :(

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    1. Two weeks hardy seems like enough time to know for sure. Success may be just around the corner!

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