ADAM’S-NEEDLE
File Size: 116 KB
 
Yucca flaccida  Haworth
[=Yucca smalliana Fernald]
Riley County, Kansas
Height: Flowering stems to 8 feet
Family: Asparagaceae - Asparagus Family
Flowering Period:   May, June
Trunks: Aboveground stems essentially absent.
Leaves: Persistent, rosulate at end of caudex, simple; petiole absent; blade linear to linear-lanceolate, 16 to 32 inches long, .4 to 1.6 inch wide, usually becoming bent medially, leathery, margins entire, green or white, more or less plane, with tread-like fibers, apex acuminate to needle-like, surfaces green to grayish green, glabrous, not glaucous or slightly glaucous.
Flowers: Inflorescence arising from rosette, panicles, erect, 40-100-flowered; peduncles 20 to 80 inches, minutely pubescent; pedicels .4 to 1.2 inch, minutely pubescent. Flowers bisexual, radially symmetric, spreading to pendent, bell-shaped; tepals 6, distinct, white to greenish white, more or less fleshy or not, lanceolate to elliptic, 1.2 to 2 inches long, .5 to 1.2 inch wide, pubescent, apex acute; stamens 6, .6 to 1.9 inch long; pistil 1; styles 3, connate; stigmas 3, tapered.
Fruit: August-September; capsules, brown, woody, cylindric to inversely pear-shaped, more or less constricted at middle, 1.4 to 1.6 inch long, .6 to .8 inch wide, glabrous; seeds 200-300, black, flattened, more or less triangular, .24 to .35 inch long, .2 to .28 inch wide, dull.
Habitat: Roadsides, cemeteries, old home sites, thickets, tallgrass prairies.
Distribution: East 1/3 of Kansas
Origin: Naturalized
Comments: Yucca flaccida is a popular ornamental, especially east of the Flint Hills. It often persists near abandoned farmsteads and buildings, and it frequently escapes from cultivation and establishes in nearby habitats, especially tallgrass prairies. The name Yucca filamentosa L. has been applied to this species in the Great Plains; that name, narrowly applied, pertains to plants in the southeastern United States with glabrous peduncles and pedicels. However, the morphological differences are minor.

Adam’s-needle leaves
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Riley County, Kansas
Adam’s-needle leaf fibers
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Riley County, Kansas
Adam’s-needle inflorescence
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Riley County, Kansas
Adam’s-needle flowers
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Riley County, Kansas
Adam’s-needle leaves and leaf fibers
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Riley County, Kansas
Adam’s-needle fruit
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Photo by Craig Freeman
Adam’s-needle habit
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Photo by Craig Freeman