Yucca recurvifolia in flower
Yucca recurvifolia
Commonly known as the curve-leaf yucca, Yucca recurvifolia is a medium-sized evergreen ornamental species native to the southeastern United States. Although introduced to English gardens in 1794, it was first named and described in 1806 by British botanist Richard Anthony Salisbury, FRS (1761 –1829), there has been a certain amount of confusion with its having a further 35 other botanical names attributed to it over the next 96 years!

Yucca recurvifolia botanical illustration
Yucca recurvifolia botanical illustration
The accepted name for this plant is now Yucca gloriosa var. tristis, given by American botanist William Trelease (1857-1945) after French botanist Élie-Abel Carrière (1818–1896) described it earlier as a variety. Believe it or not, but Carrière himself proposed 13 varying names! However, despite being an illegal name, Yucca recurvifolia is still the most widely used within the industry.

It is usually short-stemmed with several branches, and under favourable growing conditions can achieve a height of 1-2 metres and a spread of 2-3 metres. The long tapered leaves can growth to between 30-60 cm long and 7.5-10 cm wide. They are glaucous when young become more green as they mature. All but the upper, central leaves are characteristically recurved, hence Salisbury's species name.

The creamy-white blooms appear in late summer and are produced densely on erect, pyramidal panicles between 60 and 100 cm tall.

Plant Yucca recurvifolia in full sun in a light, free-draining soil. Avoid waterlogged conditions.

Yucca recurvifolia received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1984.

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