Awesome agave

agave decipiens at bic by ks copy

Florida agave and false sisal are common names for the plant pictured above, Agave decipiens. Endemic to Florida, this long-lived perennial plant is associated with coastal areas, especially shell middens. Salt and drought-tolerant, this plant reportedly grows to be up to 8′ tall and wide.

The sharp pointed tips and fiber of another member of the Agave family (Agavaceae), Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia), are thought to have been used by aboriginal peoples …
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Florida agave may have been used in a similar way. It does not grow at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area and the photograph at the top of the post was taken at the Brevard Barrier Island Sanctuary and Education Center on 3/38/2015 by Karen Schuster.

A related plant, Adamn’s needle (Yucca filamentosa), grows in the scrub and is shown below at the North Sebastian Conservation Area. Note the distinguishing filaments…
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Pointed

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Aboriginal peoples are said to have used the very sharp & pointed tips of Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia) as needles. Fibrous material from this plant was used to make ropes, baskets and mats.

Diane LaRue (Class of 2012) pointed out this plant growing amongst the sea oxeye daisy (Borrichia frutescens) near the eastern-most wetland crossover bridge at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area. Generally, Spanish bayonet is a plant of dry places, so likely there is a bit of high ground beneath it …

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Sometimes plants turn up where you would not expect them to grow.

Yuck-a! Spanish Bayonet

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Volunteer Jean ‘JJ’ Romano (Class of 2013) sent this photo of Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia) in glorious bloom at the western-most wetland cross-over bridge at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, as well as this close-up …
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You usually will find this formidable, stiff-leaved plant growing at the beach and on the margins of brackish marshes and may recall that one grows near the Boathouse to the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory at the gate to Oslo Road.

Also known as aloe yucca or Spanish dagger, this plant has thick, stiff leaves with an apex that ends in a small, conical brown spine …
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Native people used this very sharp tip as a needle and from the fibrous leaves fashioned clothes, footwear, and baskets. Pioneers made rope and string from the fibrous leaves. As a modern landscape use, Jim Goldsmith recommends placing this plant beneath the window of teenage daughters.
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Dramatic erect panicles (up to 2′ tall) of creamy colored pendant flowers, sometimes tinged with purple, briefly festoon this plant in May or June. Unfortunately, these showy blooms last only about a week. The petals (actually sepals) can be eaten raw or deep-dried, as a potato-chip substitute.

This monoecious plant is pollinated only by the yucca moth (Pronuba yuccasella), so fruiting in our area is rare due to a lack of its obligate pollinator.
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In your yard, this drought tolerant plant can be used to deter foot traffic or as an attractive accent plant, properly placed. From Jean Romano’s photo of the Spanish bayonet flowering at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, you can see that this plant flowers in semi-shade and tolerates a wide variety of conditions.