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Vascular Plants of California
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Yucca brevifolia

Higher Taxonomy
Family: AgavaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Perennial herb, shrub, tree, fibrous succulent or not, from bulbs or rhizomes. Stem: above ground or not, branched or not. Leaf: simple, deciduous or not, basal or in terminal rosettes, generally sessile, linear, lanceolate, oblanceolate or ovate, fibrous or not, thin and flexible or thick and rigid or succulent; margin entire, fine-serrate, dentate, or with filaments, tips rigid or flexible, with a spine or not. Flower: bisexual; perianth parts 6, in 2 petal-like whorls, free or +- fused; stamens 6, +- fused to perianth, filaments often wide, succulent; ovary superior or inferior, chambers 3, style 1 (thick, poorly defined), stigma head-like or 3-lobed. Fruit: capsule, indehiscent, loculicidal, or septicidal. Seed: few to many, +- flat or ovoid, generally black.
Genera In Family: 24 genera, 637 species: worldwide.
eFlora Treatment Author: Dale W. McNeal, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Dale W. McNeal, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: YuccaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Shrub- or tree-like, generally branched from woody caudex, occasionally dying after fruiting. Leaf: rosette basal or at branch tips, 2--15 dm, linear, thick, +- rigid, stout-spine-tipped, bases +- expanded, margins generally curved up, entire or dentate, often fibrous-shredding. Inflorescence: panicle [raceme], erect (pendent), dense; peduncle generally < 2 cm wide; bracts generally ascending. Flower: generally pendent, 3--13 cm; perianth parts 6 in 2 whorls, generally +- fused, +- white, fleshy, waxy; stamens 6, filaments +- thick, fleshy; ovary superior, 3(6)-chambered, generally green, style short, often thick, poorly defined, stigmas 3-lobed, white to pale green. Fruit: berry-like or generally capsule, erect or pendent, tardily septicidal or generally indehiscent. Seed: +- many in 2 rows per chamber, often flat, black.
Species In Genus: +- 40 species: eastern coastal plain, southeastern, sc, & especially dry southwestern North America; northern, central-western Mexico, northern Central America. Etymology: (Haitian: yuca or manihot, because young inflorescences occasionally roasted for food) Note: Pollinated at night by small moths while laying eggs in ovary. Yucca whipplei moved to Hesperoyucca.
eFlora Treatment Author: William J. Hess
Unabridged Reference: Hess & Robbins 2002 FNANM 26: 423--439
Yucca brevifolia Engelm.
Habit: Plant 1--15 m. Stem: erect, above ground, generally branched above, rosettes at tips, well above ground. Leaf: 15--35 cm, 0.7--1.5 cm wide, dark green, expanded base 2--4 cm, 4--5 cm wide, +- white, margins minute-serrate, yellow. Inflorescence: 3--5 dm, distal generally +- 1/2 exserted from rosettes. Flower: erect; perianth 4--7 cm, +- bell-shaped, parts lanceolate to oblong, +- fused at base, cream to +- green; filaments thick; pistil +- 3.5 cm. Fruit: capsule, spreading to erect in age, 6--8.5 cm, ellipsoid, dry, spongy, or leathery in youth.
Ecology: Desert flats, slopes; Elevation: 400--2000 m. Bioregional Distribution: s SNH (e slope), Teh, e SNE, DMoj; Distribution Outside California: to southwestern Utah, western Arizona, southern Nevada. Flowering Time: Apr--May Note: Growth form variable.
Synonyms: Yucca brevifolia var. herbertii (J.M. Webber) Munz; Yucca brevifolia var. jaegeriana McKelvey; Yucca jaegeriana (McKelvey) L.W. Lenz
Jepson eFlora Author: William J. Hess
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Yucca brevifolia

botanical illustration including Yucca brevifolia


Citation for this treatment: William J. Hess 2012, Yucca brevifolia, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 27, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 27, 2021.

Yucca brevifolia
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© 2012 California Academy of Sciences
Yucca brevifolia
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© 2018 Neal Kramer
Yucca brevifolia
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© 2019 Neal Kramer
Yucca brevifolia
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© 2008 Neal Kramer
Yucca brevifolia
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© 2008 Neal Kramer
Yucca brevifolia
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© 2013 Barry Rice

More photos of Yucca brevifolia in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Yucca brevifolia:
s SNH (e slope), Teh, e SNE, DMoj
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).