Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 265 Yucca aloifolia

Common Names: Spanish bayonet, dagger plant Family: Agavaceae (agave Family)
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a clump of Spanish bayonet yuccas
This impressive clump of Spanish bayonet thrives in the hostile environs of a dry dusty bait shop parking lot in Woodville, Florida.


Spanish bayonet has an erect trunk, 3-5 in (7.6-12.7 cm) in diameter, reaching up to 5-20 ft (1.5-6.1 m) tall before it becomes top heavy and topples over. When that happens, the tip turns upward and keeps on growing. The trunk is armed with sharp pointed straplike leaves each about 2 ft (0.6 m) long. The young leaves near the growing tip stand erect; older ones are reflexed downward, and the oldest wither and turn brown, hanging around the lower trunk like an Hawaiian skirt. Eventually the tip of the trunk develops a 2 ft (0.6 m) long spike of white, purplish-tinged flowers, each blossom about 4 in (12.7 cm) across. After flowering, the trunk stops growing, but one or more lateral buds are soon formed, and the uppermost becomes a new terminal shoot. Any other buds become branches, but these are usually few, and the plant has an open, airy habit. Spanish bayonet also produces new buds, or offshoots, near the base of the trunk, forming a thicket. There are several cultivars available, including 'Marginata' with yellow margined leaves and a variety (var. draconis) with a branching trunk and wider, recurved leaves.

Spanish bayonet is similar to Spanish dagger or mound lily (Y. gloriosa) but the latter can be recognized by its more branched, interlaced habit which creates an overall moundlike appearance, and by its leaves which are: bluish-green instead of dark green; less rigid, tending to bend downward at the middle; wider and longer; and with smooth instead or rough margins.


Spanish bayonet, Yucca aloifolia, is native to coastal areas, including sand dunes, shell mounds and shorelines, from North Carolina to Mexico and in the West Indies. It is widely cultivated and naturalized throughout much of the southern US.


Spanish bayonet will flourish in full sun with light, sandy soil. Light: Prefers full sun but does well in partial sun. Moisture: Drought tolerant Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. Propagation: By seeds, root cuttings, and offsets
Spanish bayonet flower spike
The Spanish bayonet's pure white spires explode into flowers against a summer sky just in time for the fourth o' July.


Use Spanish bayonet as an accent behind beds and borders. Plant them in a cluster in a sunny corner of the landscape where they will have room to tumble over and start new plants from offshoots. Place Spanish bayonet in the background, where people and pets won't be skewered! Spanish bayonet may be the ultimate in "security plants" - it can be planted beneath windows and other access points where its fiercely pointed leaves will prevent passage of all interlopers human and otherwise.


Even in the background, Spanish bayonet commands attention with its dramatic spikes of white flowers and handsome saberlike foliage.


They don't call it Spanish bayonet because it's named after Señor Bayonet! The tips of the leaves are pointed and sharp! Do not plant Spanish bayonet near walkways, patios or in areas frequented by children and pets. This plant can inflict painful puncture wounds even through heavy clothing!

Steve Christman 03/07/97; updated 07/05/98; 10/23/99; 12/6/99, 06/30/01, 2/19/04

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Yucca species profiled on Floridata:

Yucca aloifolia

( Spanish bayonet, dagger plant )

Yucca elephantipes

( spineless yucca, giant yucca )

Yucca filamentosa

( Adam's needle, bear grass, weak-leaf yucca )

Yucca gloriosa

( Spanish dagger, palm lily, mound-lily yucca )

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