How does the saying go? The more you know, the more you realize you don't know? Something like that. Anyway, I knew yuccas were pollinated by a moth, but there was so much more I didn't know about the moth and it's relationship to the plant.
This pod is one I picked up on our travels in Arizona or New Mexico, years ago. I've always suspected we didn't have the yucca moth up here in Portland, because I've never seen a seed pod on our yuccas. After listening to the In Defense of Plants podcast called The Sex Lives of Yuccas I emailed their guest from that show, Syracuse University's Dr. Kari Segraves, and asked her. She grew up in Eastern Washington so I figured she would have some familiarity with our yuccas. Her reply: "You won’t see any yucca fruit in the PNW because the moths don’t get that far west. It’s probably because the native yuccas (Yucca glauca) don’t extend beyond central-western Montana. What I think happens is that essentially, the planted yuccas aren’t common enough to support the pollinators. I also don’t find bogus yucca moths in that area either." Wondering what a bogus yucca moth is? Listen to the podcast to find out.
See that small hole? Moth larvae on their way out...
Here's one of the few remaining seeds from the pod, it's been snacked on by the moth larvae.
There's another hole at the top right in this photo. Thanks to the podcast I know if the yucca moth gets carried away laying eggs the yucca can abort the flowers (not allowing them to mature) and thus the moth larvae never get the chance to develop. It's an complex relationship. Go listen to the podcast, really...it's very interesting!
Weather Diary, Dec 12: Hi 54 Low 45/ Precip .31
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