The yucca flower is New Mexico's state flower, but although many types of yucca grow in the Land of Enchantment, no particular species holds this title. Yuccas are members of the Agave family of plants, and are perennial evergreens. They produce spectacular stalks of flowers that are highly visible in the desert landscape, which prompted their selection as the state's flower.
Some confusion exists as to the actual species of plant designated as the state flower of New Mexico by their legislature in 1927. The Netstate website says that the school kids and various women's clubs of the state selected the yucca flower as the state floral symbol, but failed to distinguish exactly which of the many types that grew in New Mexico had the honor. Since the New Mexico statutes simply state that the "yucca flower" is New Mexico's official flower, any of these attractive blooms from these plants can serve as the symbol.
Soapweed yucca is one plant that produces flowers worthy of representing the state. These flowers grow on elongated stalks that jut out from the top of the plant, with the stalk able to reach 4 1/2 feet in length. The leaves of soapweed yucca are a pale green color and between 20 and 30 inches long. The flowers, green-white and shaped like bells, turn into woody seed capsules in time.
Soaptree yucca is larger than soapweed yucca, with the capability of being almost 20 feet tall in some cases. The plant has leaves resembling those of a palm tree, which grow at the very bottom of the plant. The stalk that the flowers emerge on is thin and grows up from the midst of the leaves. The white flowers grow up and down the stalk. The plant tolerates the cold but is a slow growing species. The flowering stalks have the nickname of "Our Lord's Candles" from their appearance in the moonlight, states Southernnewmexico.com.
While you can buy yuccas at your local nursery or flower center, you can easily grow them from seeds. The seeds need the weather to be warm, with the temperatures at least 60 degrees F. Grow them from their underground roots, called rhizomes, as well as from cutting from the stem, according to the Wildflower.org website. All species of yucca depend on an insect called the Pronuba moth, or yucca moth, to pollinate the plant, with different subspecies of the moth responsible for pollinating different kinds of yuccas.
Yuccas as a whole are an easy-to-maintain plant, needing little watering once established. They require a place in your garden that gets the full effects of the sun but the soil does not have to be moist. It can withstand dry soils that drain well and yuccas, with their evergreen leaves, will persist in many climates for a number of years.