Habit: Yucca whipplei for most of its life is a mound of sharply tipped leaves that stick out in every direction. After about seven years the plant uses all of its energy in the production of flowers and setting seed, and then dies. This yucca creates a grand exit at the end of it’s life, with a flowering stalk that rises 3-9 ft (1-3 m) tall. Because of this spectacular inflorescence, it is commonly referred to as Our Lord’s Candle. Another common name, Spanish bayonet, refers to the sharpness of the leaves.
Ecology: Yucca whipplei is native to Southern California, Northwestern Arizona, and Mexico on the Baja California Peninsula. Growing in coastal chaparral forests to inland Pinyon-Junpier Woodlands up to elevations of 4,000 ft (1,200 m)
Growing Conditions: Similar to other yuccas, Our Lord’s Candle is a great choice for the xeric garden, as it has adapted to life on dry chaparral hills. Plant in a sunny spot in the garden, preferably on a south facing slope in rocky soil. Although this plant dies after blooming, over its lifetime it produces offshoots which will continue on living after the main plants demise.
Yucca whipplei has been used for many different uses throughout its relationship with humans. The fibers from the leaves were used to make anything from shoes to fishing line. While the flowers, flowering stalk and crown, are edible after preparing correctly.