Spanish Dagger or Pita

Although not technically a tree, one of our favorite “trees” is Yucca trecleana, or Spanish Dagger.   This is a water-wise plant commonly found in brush lines and in the ranch country.    It has stiff wide leaves with extremely sharp tips.    I’ve read that an Indian tribe used these leaves to stab around a snake bite and remove the venom.    In south Texas, we call it Pita.

Spanish Dagger or Pita

Plant this in a well drained area. It prefers a sandy loam but will do just fine in clay as long as it is well-drained . If there are any nearby, birds will plant them too! Of course, those may not fit your landscape plan . . .

After Hurricane Dolly, we lost an old, big ash tree that was growing within 20 feet of a large Spanish Dagger. We removed the ash tree and went on with life. Within a few months, that dagger was laying over, rotted from too much water!

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center, Spanish daggers are larval host plants for Yucca giant skipper butterfly, Ursine giant skipper, and Streckers giant skipper.   In our yard, a mockingbird regularly nests in our large dagger.

The plant’s beautiful blooms are known as Flor de Pita in deep south Texas and is one of our first signs of spring. They are long lasting and quite waxy. Wildlife eat them. In fact, people eat the blooms when they are young and tender. For a little more info on that, you can look at this Instagram post by The Kitchen Wrangler.

Yucca bloom

I love the sculptural look of Yucca trecleana.   It’s a beautiful water-wise Texas native!

Mary Beth

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