A few months ago, on a trip through New Mexico, I stopped by Ghost Ranch for a short visit and hike. Ghost Ranch is a beautiful area in north central New Mexico. It is a retreat and education center that belongs to the Presbyterian Church, but is open to the general public (all visitors must register with the visitor center). Though there is a long history to the Ranch, perhaps it has become most well known due to its links with the artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who once owned a home on a small portion of the Ranch.
There is an easy and rather popular hike to a rock formation called Chimney Rock, not far from the Ghost Ranch Welcome Center. As I ambled along the trail to Chimney Rock on that cool and windy Spring day, I was delighted to come across what I believe to be Yucca harrimaniae, occasionally dotting the sides of the trail. This small and very charming yucca was quite numerous on areas along the hike.
In the limited research I did, I discovered that there is also a possibility that the yuccas I saw at Ghost Ranch might also be Yucca angustissima. And it seems that there is disagreement among botanist about these two species of Yucca, and what distinguishes them. For the sake of simplicity, and at the risk of being wrong, I will refer to these yuccas as Yucca harrimaniae. Some people call Yucca harrimaniae by the common name Harriman’s Narrow Leaf Yucca.
I have seen these in the Denver area, planted in gardens, but I had never before noticed them in the wild, as I am usually accustomed to only seeing Yucca glauca, which is quite common in natural areas of northern and eastern Colorado. That is why I was so excited to see them. The Yucca harrimaniae leaf color is less blue-grey than Yucca glauca (glauca or glaucous translates to “blue-grey” in Latin), and I think Y. harrimaniae exhibits more of the curly white “side hairs” than the Y. glauca. Like all other yuccas, these will sport a beautiful flower stalk in spring to early summer.
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