|Sotol [Desert Spoon] (Dasylirion wheeleri)|
DESCRIPTION: Semi-succulent plant to 3' or more. May have trunk, but leaves usually form a rosette from the base. Leaves are semi-succulent, ribbon-like (long, narrow, thin, and flexible), green, and the margins have teeth. Dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). Flowers bloom in summer along a tall (to 12') stalk coming out of the center of the rosette of leaves. Flowers are tiny, greenish-white to yellowish, and are clumped along the upper half of the stalk. Seed are contained in a three-winged, papery shell and are dispersed by the wind. Agavaceae (Agave) or, more recently, Nolinaceae (Nolina) Family.
NATURAL HISTORY: The common name, desert spoon, arises from the fact that the dried leaves, when pulled from the rosette, are shaped like a spoon at the base. Sotol blooms once every few years, multiple times during its life (unlike Agave which bloom once in their lifetime, but similar to Yucca). Many types of insects pollinate Sotol flowers (unlike Yucca which are pollinated only by a moth and Agave which are mostly pollinated by bats). Sotol, as do other members of the Agavaceae family, has been used by humans in many ways, including making baskets, mats, rope, and even liquor.