Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Epiphytic Yucca

yucca growing epiphytically
Yucca growing epiphytically in a pine tree. 

Plants don't always grow where they are supposed to.  As my friends say, "they must not have read the books."  The lesson is that we need to remember that the natural world is always full of surprises and that we usually have too narrow of a point of view of things.  Part of the reason genetic diversity is so important to preserve is that individuals can carry the genetic combination that will allow them to survive in different niches.  Particularly important with a rapidly changing climate that we are now undergoing.

We typically think of succulent and xeric plants like cacti, Yuccas, and Agaves as growing in hot dry areas like deserts.  But they also grow in cooler and higher locations as well as in forests.  Even occasionally they will grow in the odd spots like up in the trees!  In a previous post I showed several types of cacti growing epiphytically in the trees, but agaves and yuccas will occasionally as well.  Agaves are a little more commonly found growing as epiphytes, as can be seen to the left growing underneath a blooming Billbergia pallidiflora.  Less common are epiphytic yuccas.  There is a newer species that always seems to grow epiphytic, Yucca lacandonica.  But the yucca shown above is an oddball specimen growing up in a pine tree in relatively high altitude in Jalisco along with orchids and Pitcairnia heterophylla (white flowered form). The ability of plants to grow in marginal niches is always a good sign that they will hopefully have the potential to adapt and survive long into the future.