Red Yucca/Red Hesperaloe

(Hesperaloe parviflora)

A close-up of the green leaves of Red Hesperaloe with their curly fibers.

Our medium-sized Hesperaloe is the extremely popular parviflora species, called Red Yucca or Hesperaloe. Due to its easily managed size and beautiful flowers, it is one of the most common Hesperaloes you will see in public garden spaces. Growing up to 4 feet, it develops curving marginal filaments that pull away from the leaf edge, giving the appearance of coarse hair growing off the edges. This makes it easy to distinguish from other rosette-forming succulents.

Red Hesperaloe grows a flowering stalk called a raceme. It can grow to a height of 9 feet, though at Sunnylands it grows normally between 6 and 7 feet, much lower than the 16 foot raceme of its cousin Giant Hesperaloe. Its blooms vary in color through natural garden cross-pollination and human cultivation, but they tend to stay in the dark red to coral pink ranges. This species is a parent of the smaller Hesperaloe called Brakelights, also planted at Sunnylands.

Hesperaloe in general appears to be popular with not only nectaring hummingbirds but also with opportunistic Monarch and Queen Butterfly caterpillars. When Hesperaloe is placed near milkweed beds, chrysalis of both butterflies have been found attached to its leaves. But chrysalis also has been found on agaves, so this is not an identifying feature.

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