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Evergreen, Shrubs

Native to deserts and mountains of the Southwest and Mexico. Clumps of narrow, grassy leaves spring from a woody base that can, with age, grow into a treelike trunk. Tiny flowers are tightly clustered on a tall, narrow spike. Provide good drainage. Very drought-tolerant, but some irrigation will speed growth. Definitely needs summer water in low desert Zone 13.

Dasylirion longissimum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Dasylirion longissimum (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

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Dasylirion longissimum

Smooth-edged green leaves in a fountainlike clump to about 5 ft. tall and wide. The trunk is slow to form, but may reach 10 ft. tall. Eventually bears white to cream-colored flowers in early summer.

Dasylirion wheeleri
Dasylirion wheeleri

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Dasylirion wheeleri

Forms a near-spherical clump 3–5 ft. high, 4–5 ft. wide. Stiff, spiky, bluish gray leaves to 3 ft. long have teeth along the edges. Leaves slowly form a trunk to 3 ft. tall, covered with dried, drooping shag of old leaves. Base of each leaf broadens where it joins the trunk to form a long-handled “spoon” prized in dried arrangements. Eventually produces white flowers on a 9–15-ft.-tall spike in early summer.

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