A stunning slow-growing tree-like yucca with upright stems of minimal branching to 12 feet tall that have attractive 3 foot long by 1 inch wide, stiff, slightly waxy, pale silver to whitish gray leaves that have narrow yellow margins and are tightly clustered to form dense rosettes on top of the stems. The old leaves fall off leaving a fibrous soft gray covering on the trunk.
Large clusters of white flowers hang downward along the upright stout spikes that rise from within the crowns 2 feet or more in late spring.
This plant is from the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, and Zacatecas. Our plants came from seed purchased as Yucca rostrata but the crop had many plants that were clearly not Yucca rostrata which has shorter, slightly twisted and softer leaves. The specific epithet describes well the inflexible characteristic of this plant’s leaves – we once heard a person jokingly describing the difference between Yucca rostrata and Yucca rigida by saying that if you forcefully push the palm of one’s hand against the leaf of each species that the Yucca rostrata leaf may prick you but the Yucca rigida leaf could well go through your hand. Other common names include Silver Leaf Yucca and Palmilla. The name Yucca was given to the genus by Linnaeus, perhaps by mistake, as it is the Latinized derivation of “yuca”, the Caribbean name for Cassava (Manihot esculenta) an unrelated plant in the Euphorbia family that is native to the Caribbean area. Interestingly it was also Linnaeus who applied the name Manihot to Yuca. This description is based on our research and on the our observations of this plant as it grows in containers at our nursery and landscape plantings in our own nursery garden and other gardens that we visit.
We also will incorporate comments we receive from others and appreciate receiving feedback of any kind from those who have additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Yucca rigida.