The fifty or so specie of yucca that are native to North and Central America are horticultural nonconformists. Like most of the related agaves and aloes, they are classified as succulents; but none have succulents leaves. Their stems store moisture, but are about as succulent as trunks of palm trees. Actually, many are classified as trees because they develop heavy and sculpturally branched trunks, but they are really just big herbaceous perennials that get very old.
From the Big Bend region of Texas and adjoining Mexico, beaked yucca, Yucca rostrata, happens to be one of the yuccas that develops a trunk, but grows so slowly with such billowy foliage, that it respected more as a striking foliage plant. The largest and oldest plants get no larger than fifteen feet tall and rarely develop one or very few branches. Most are less than ten feet tall with single but bulky symmetrical foliar rosettes. The individual grayish leaves are limber and narrow, but very abundant. ‘Sapphire Skies’ has even more striking bluish foliage.
As if the excellent foliage were not enough, mature beaked yucca blooms with small white flowers on big spikes nearly two and a half feet tall. Spikes can appear through winter and are typically finished blooming by spring, before summer dormancy, but do not seem to be too devoted to any particular schedule.
Beaked yucca is less common than it should be; perhaps because it is difficult to grow in nurseries. Besides, they are not for every garden, and are very likely to rot where they get watered as frequently as most other plants get watered. They do not mind if watered perhaps a few times through summer, but are more than satisfied with what they get from rainfall.