The Yucca schidigera, aka Mojave Yucca, aka Spanish Dagger. I prefer Spanish Dagger. It sounds dangerous and romantic, and it also reflects what this plant will do to you if you’re not careful around it.
This spring we’ve had a superbloom in the Mojave Desert. We get these every so often, when the rain gods feel generous and bestow a few extra inches of precious precipitation upon our parched earth, during the Fall and Winter months.
Purple sage embowered beneath the reticulated frame of a dead cholla cactus. A copse of Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia) in full fruit, stands guard nearby.
I thought I’d share some photos of our current superbloom as a little Mother’s Day gift, for all the mothers who follow this blog. But the muthers are welcome to enjoy it, too.
The fruit of the Joshua Tree. This fruit has a soapy, bitter taste when eaten raw. Native Americans were outstanding chefs. They figured out how to roast it just right, to remove the bitterness.
I can’t show you all the different kinds of flowers that have bloomed this year, because there are just so many. Deserts have as much diversity in plant species as found in tropical rainforests. This becomes most apparent during a superbloom.
California Manroot. This vine makes tiny parts of the desert resemble a jungle, as it festoons California Junipers with its lush green leaves and spiky fruit.
A Spanish Dagger, with Purple Sage in the foreground, and purple and white mountains in the background. That’s Mount San Gorgonio, which is the tallest peak in Southern California, at 11,503 feet.
Superblooms attract hordes of tourists that can make viewing a hectic or commercial experience. And so, while the flowers bloom, your spirit is left barren.
Encelia farinosa, aka Brittle Bush. These happy yellow bouquets spring up to greet you, in unexpected corners and alcoves of the desert.
You must know the secret places, to enjoy a superbloom in peace and quiet. And you must take the trails less traveled, that lead to magical glens guarded by rattlesnakes and loneliness.
Rancher’s Fiddleheads, with stands of Purple Sage in the background.
A hillside of white flowers.
Every caring mother wants her child to bloom. But to bloom you must take risks, and go to places and do things that may leave your mother worried, if she only knew.
This Spanish Dagger seems to have strayed a little ways from its family.
You must develop courage. Strike out on your own. And avoid the trammeling crowds.
Then look to the skies and fervently pray to the rain gods.
A Monoptilon bellioides, aka Mojave Desertstar. These cheery members of the Asteraceae family, erupt after periods of heavy rainfall.
You may endure many years of thirst, heat, and dry seasons. But one day the rain gods may hear. And you, too, will have a superbloom.
Another Spanish Dagger. This one has gothic, purple petals that resemble corn husks. You may have noticed that every yucca produces a unique flower. No two yucca flowers look exactly the same.
A superbloom you can proudly share with your mother. On Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother’s Day!