Ellen Zagory / UC Davis Arboretum

Dasylirion wheeleri

Durable Delights: Desert Spoon

Published: Saturday, Apr. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 7CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 - 5:52 pm

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum Durable Delights, 30 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region.

Dasylirion wheeleri

Size: Under 4 feet tall

Bloom season: Spring and summer

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: Little or none

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once or twice a month – or not at all.

Snapshot: This attractive desert dweller also is an Arboretum All-Star. Native to southern Arizona, desert spoon has found a home in drought-tolerant gardens as an almost-no-care accent plant. That also made it a surefire candidate for the new Durable Delights collection. This evergreen has long narrow blue-gray leaves that radiate from a woody base to form a spiky globe. Cream-colored flowers emerge in summer on tall spikes that can reach 15 feet tall on mature plants. It is drought and frost tolerant, surviving temperatures several degrees below freezing, and makes a striking accent plant. Because it tolerates cold winter nights at elevations up to 6,000 feet, this shrub thrives where agaves won't. Specimens grow 4 feet tall and almost as wide. One caution: Its attractive, silver-blue foliage has sharp, sawtooth edges. The plant gets its name from its spoon-shaped base. You can see specimens in the Ruth Risdon Storer Valley-Wise Garden on the UC Davis campus.

• For more on Durable Delights, click on http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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