Desert Spoon, Spoon Flower, Sotol
Dasylirion wheeleri is a stem succulent related to yucca and agave that forms a beautifully regular dome of leaves, each long and thin, waxy coated with serrated margins and tufted at the end.
The colour of the Desert Spoon is variable, often blue-grey, sometimes mid-green and quite often twisted giving each leaf a kind of spiral effect.
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Dasylirion wheeleri is native to the Northern parts of Mexico and Southwestern United States, the name literally means “dense” or “shaggy” + lilly.
Above the foliage, a massive flower stalk grows in summer reaching up to 5 m in height. The plant is dioecious, meaning that the male and female plants are separated, with males having mostly white flowers while the female flowers are purple-pink.
In Mexico, the inner core of the plant is being fermented and distilled, resulting in an alcoholic drink similar to tequila or mezcal, called sotol. Locals in the west part of Mexico are using its leaves to weave baskets and holiday decorations after stripping the leaves of their spines.
Care & Size Guidance
Dasylirion wheeleri is an easy to care for arid plant. It grows happy in well drained soils and full sun and it’s incredibly drought tolerant. Once planted, it does not require much care, though a deep watering every now and then in summer will promote rapid growth.
In cultivation the plant apparently has a tendency to rot in heavy soils and so requires good drainage.
Virtually pest and disease free, but scale insects may find the underside of the Dasylirion’s leaves a good home. Make sure to inspect the plant at least once a year in spring.
Once the flowers are spent, the flower stalk can be cut down to the centre of the plant’s crown.
Prickly in all directions
The main feature of the Dasylirion family is the small prickles that are found on the edge of the leaves. These prickles can be straight, curved forward or recurved towards the leaf base.
Some species have a mixture of different prickle arrangements and some have smaller prickles between the large ones. These prickles are vicious, giving the leaves the appearance and feel of small serrated kitchen knives that clearly deter animals from eating them!