Sunday, 27 May 2018

Yucca glauca

"Yucca glauca - Soapweed Yucca," drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2018

This first offering of my "yellow/white phase" is more white than yellow although the Soapweed Yucca flowers do have a yellowish tinge.  This is a plant I remember fondly from the days when I had the good fortune many years ago to live in the beautifully, scenic State of New Mexico. 

Yucca glauca is a species of perennial evergreen plant adapted to dry growth conditions. It is commonly known as soapweed, soapweed yucca and Spanish bayonet. It is a member of the family, Asparagaceae. Yucca glauca is native to central North America. It can be found growing from the Canadian prairie Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada, south through the Great Plains to the States of Texas and New Mexico in the U.S. 

Soapweed Yucca produces large sprays of sword-shaped leaves that grow densely in whorls from the ground. The flower head is usually large, often exceeding 3 feet in height and 2 feet in width and consists of a single upright stem with radiating clusters of creamy white or pale yellow blooms, sometimes tinged with purple. Each blossom is around 2 inches long and tulip-shaped with six pointed, downward-facing petals with only the occasional blossom  opening fully and showing its face. 

Soapweed yucca was a traditional Native American medical plant. Among the Zuni people, the seed pods were boiled and used for food. Leaves were made into brushes and used for decorating pottery, ceremonial masks, altars and other objects. Leaves were also soaked in water to soften them and made into rope by knotting them together. Dried leaves were split, plaited and made into water-carrying head pads. Leaves were also used for making mats, cincture pads and other articles. The peeled roots were pounded, made into suds and used for washing the head, wool garments and blankets.  Some of these practices are still in use today.  

In 1927, the legislature of New Mexico adopted the choice of the state's schoolchildren, who selected the yucca flower as the official state flower. Yucca is prolific in New Mexico and, while no species was specifically named, it is accepted that the official flower is either Yucca elata (see photo below)

Yucca elata

or Yucca glauca. The early Spanish invaders, who took note of the large and impressive flower heads, called them "Lamparas de Dios" or "the Lamps of God" rather than trying to learn one of the Native names for this plant. 

Yuccas and yucca moths are the classic example of a plant and animal obligate symbiotic relationship where each organism requires the other to survive. Yucca moths are the only insects that can successfully pollinate yucca flowers and the developing yucca fruits are the only larval food source for yucca moths. 

The genus name, Yucca, was mistakenly derived from the name for a totally different plant. Early reports of the North American species were confused with the cassava (Manihot esculenta) plant found in the Caribbean. Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the Taíno word for the latter, yuca (spelled with a single "c"). The specific name, glauca, comes from the Latin and means “greenish-grey” in colour – perhaps referring to the colour of the sharply-pointed leaves of this plant. 

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.


These two have been busy as usual including trips to the local park and to Ripley's Aquarium in downtown Toronto.  Below are the photos that prove it!

Tunnelling at the Park

Sliding at the Park

On the train into Toronto

Wow!  As Little Red Riding Hood said:  "What big teeth you have grandma!"

Brothers marvelling at all the fish



Suki expresses uncertainty over whether she should
be wearing a red ribbon ... "Perhaps," she thinks, "it would
be more fun to tear it off and chew on it!"
Poor Suki has had a bit of a rough time since my last posting. Her prescription pain medication became a problem. Let me explain. 

As occurred the previous time she was on this particular pain medication, after about 10 to 12 weeks, she started having periods of vomiting until finally being unable to keep any food down at all.

So, after 24 hours of watching Suki vomit every bit of food she tried to eat, I made the decision to stop giving her the pain medication.  Within 12 hours, Suki was again eating normally and keeping it all down.

This all occurred last weekend (our long weekend here in Canada) so I wasn't able to talk with the vet until Tuesday.  After explaining things to her, she agreed that I had done the right thing and that I should, for now, not try to give her any more pain meds.  

The vet did suggest that if Suki's pain becomes too problematic in the near future, I might try giving her a much lower dose of the medication. I'm not really sure that I want to try that; however, I will just wait and see just how much loss of mobility occurs due to Suki's ongoing issues with pain due to arthritis. 

Since being off the pain meds, Suki appears to be managing fairly well although I am very careful not to touch areas such as the base of her spine or the hip joints.  She is still able, after thinking about it for 30 seconds or so, to jump up onto her favourite chair. As always, she continues to enjoy having me scratch around her ears, her jaw and her chin.

As for me, I continue to be about the same -- "structurally disabled but internally sound" as my family doctor puts it.

Over the past months, I have been trying to bring my use of pain medications down as much as possible.  As a result, I am now taking far fewer pills each day and still managing reasonably well.  Unfortunately, over the past week, I have again started being awakened by pain in my feet and legs at night which means that I might need to return to taking just a bit more of the pain medication prescribed for me.  I plan to contact my doctor tomorrow and see what she recommends. 

Leaving the unpleasant subject of pain management aside (both for Suki and myself), let me tell you a bit about the two trips I have planned over the next seven days.

On Wednesday, I will be chauffeured by a dear friend to a home just outside the Greater Toronto Area where we will collect another dear friend of mine -- a friend whom I haven't seen for at least six months due to the difficulties we both now have with travelling.  Once the pickup is completed, the three of us will drive to a nearby shopping mall where we can sit and visit over coffees and a light lunch for a couple of hours.  By that time, I will have reached my limit for visiting and my dear, chauffeuring friend will drive me back home (thankfully, my friend lives in the City of Toronto as well so she doesn't have far to go after dropping me off).

Next Sunday, this same, dear friend will chauffeur me to the home of my precious boys and their very special parents.  Once there, I will get to visit with the children until time for brunch at which point I will finally get to visit with the parents (they settle the children down with their food and a good video so that the adults have a bit of time to talk among themselves!).  After about two and half hours (my absolute visiting limit), my wonderful chauffeur will drive me back to my home in Toronto.

You can easily see how fortunate I am to have such wonderful friends in my life.  Perhaps, during these visits, someone in the group will take some photos on their phones and send them to me so that I can use them in my next posting.  The problem is that once we all start talking, no one seems to remember to take any photos.  I might try tying Suki's red ribbon around my wrist as a reminder -- that is, if she will allow me to borrow it!

This posting occurs in the middle of the U.S. Memorial Day long weekend and I hope that all my American family and friends are safely enjoying their holiday.  As you know, we celebrated our long weekend in Canada last weekend.  Now there won't be another long weekend until July.

Meanwhile, I hope you are all doing well, staying safe and enjoying our summer weather.  I particularly hope that my family and friends in Florida and Alabama stay safe during whatever Hurricane Alberto throws at them over the next few days! 



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