Scrub Beargrass (Nolina brittoniana)
This peculiar agave occurs only in scrub and other dry habitats in six central Florida counties. It is listed by Florida and the USDI as an Endangered Species. Scrub beargrass has leathery straplike leaves up to 6' long that arise from the base in sweeping arches. Established plants are mounds of handsome foliage. In spring scrub beargrass sends up a 6' stalk that branches into several showy spikes of white flowers. Scrub beargrass does not die back after flowering. Like many other Florida scrub plants and animals, scrub beargrass is closely related to species that occur in southwestern US and Mexico, attesting to a former corridor of genetic interchange around the Gulf Coast. Many of Florida's plant and animal species with southwestern affinities migrated into Florida along the Gulf Coast during the last ice age, 12,000 years ago, when the sea level was 400' lower than present and the Florida peninsula was twice as wide as it is today. Scrub beargrass does very well in cultivation and makes a handsome border plant. It requires full sun and well drained soil. Scrub beargrass is available from several central Florida nurseries.