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Arboretum Spotlight: Grow a living starburst

Desert spoon is native to northern Mexico, but feels right at home in Sacramento. It makes a dramatic focal point in a low-water landscape.
Desert spoon is native to northern Mexico, but feels right at home in Sacramento. It makes a dramatic focal point in a low-water landscape.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

Desert spoon

Dasylirion wheeleri

Size: 4 to 6 feet tall and wide

Bloom season: Greenish white in summer; blooms only occasionally

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: None

Water needs: Very low water; once established, irrigate deeply once a month or not at all

Snapshot: Give your low-water landscape a big exclamation point. Desert spoon makes a spiky accent in any Sacramento garden. A native of northern Mexico and Arizona, desert spoon features long, blue-gray straplike leaves that form a dramatic rosette. Flowering is infrequent, but when it does, you’ll notice. Like an agave, desert spoon sprouts a 10-foot spike covered with many tiny, pale, greenish-white flowers that are very attractive to bees and other beneficial insects. Desert spoon is best used in low-maintenance landscapes with good drainage. Avoid planting near paths, and use caution when working around this plant; it has many sharp teeth along the edges of its pointy leaves.

For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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