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Blooming Yucca Plants

White cluster of yucca blossoms in May
Yucca blossoms in May

I was delighted last week to see that the yucca in my front yard is blooming. Its white blossoms look so beautiful, and there are several clumps of flowers. Yucca are common plants to find in the area of northwest New Mexico where I live.

 

I always thought they were cactus plants, but they aren't. Instead they are in a plant family called Agavaceae. I had no idea they were an agave-like plant. I learned that from an interesting site, https://davesgarden.com. You can learn about all kinds of plants there.

 

Some yucca look like a spiky shrub. Others grow almost as tall as trees. The yucca in my yard look like the ones I see when I walk out into the countryside. They have long green blades with sharp points, and their flowers are white. When my son was a pre-schooler many years ago, we used to walk around the country property where we once lived north of Aztec, NM. We would ooh and ahh at the yucca in bloom. We also searched for several different varieties of blooming cacti. If we spotted them at the right time in the spring, their gorgeous yellow or pink blossoms made us smile.

 

Centuries ago, Anasazi and Pueblo Indians in northwest New Mexico used to use yucca roots to make shampoo. They used them for other things as well. If you take a trip to the Aztec Ruins National Monument in Aztec, NM, you will find out lots more about the yucca and how useful it was to people hundreds of years ago.

 

Yucca appear in lots of yards in the subdivision where I live. They don't need much water and take very little maintenance. I have to keep a sharp eye out to be sure they don't try to sprout in another spot in my yard. As much as I love my yucca, I don't need any more!

 

I was intrigued to learn that yucca plants survive because they are pollinated by the yucca moth. The female yucca works at night. She smells the sweet scent of the yucca flowers and flies to them. Once there, she gathers pollen from the stamens of one plant. Then she deposits that pollen on the stigma of another plant. What she does in the process is to lay her eggs in the yucca flowers themselves. They are protected there and have a food source when they develop into the larva stage. Yucca moths have just one purpose, and that is to pollinate the family of yucca plants. Nature can be quite specialized!

 

If you want to learn more about yucca plants, one good source is www.newmexicoenchantment.com/p/yucca-plant.html with no period after html. You can learn a lot about yucca at your local nursery as well.

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Meditating among Trees When You Face Troubling Times

Cottonwood grows near irrigation ditch bank
Cottonwood tree

If you are struggling with an issue in your life that weighs you down or stresses you almost beyond your ability to cope, take time to visit the trees you have come to appreciate. Many of them may be in your yard or around your neighborhood.

 

When you get to one of those trees, stand near it. Quiet your mind as much as you can and focus on the tree. Notice the texture of its bark. Touch the bark to sense how it feels to your hands. Is it rough, smooth, lumpy? Look higher up into the tree. Trace the branches with your eyes. Notice how the twigs and any remaining leaves that have not fallen attach to the branches and spread beyond them.

 

Do you see any nests in the tree, any birds perched there, perhaps squawking at you for standing so close to the tree? Are there any other wildlife? Once I saw a porcupine perched in a tall cottonwood. Another time I saw a snake winding its way up the trunk of a tree toward a bird's nest containing, it hoped, eggs to eat.

 

Then bring your gaze back down to the base of the tree. Notice the roots, how they splay out from the tree trunk and bury themselves into the ground, forming a strong, sturdy base for the tree. Imagine what it would be like for you to let strong pillars of support flow from your feet deep into the earth, letting the planet nurture you and help you feel stronger.

 

Once you feel well grounded as you enjoy that connection you have forged with the earth, stand quietly as you feel strength flow into you. Look up into the tree again. If you feel so inclined, say a prayer of blessing, gratitude or encouragement for it.

 

As you feel calmness resting like a warm, comfortable cloak around you, listen to impressions that go beyond the sounds of branches brushing against each other in a gentle breeze, beyond the rustle of dried leaves on the ground as a squirrel passes by. In that quietness that takes you into a place deep within yourself, listen for any impressions that come to your mind.

 

You may become aware of an encouraging thought, a supportive idea, a phrase to cling to when life seems too difficult, too overwhelming, too confusing. You may feel filled with love so deep that it fills you up and overflows in tears of joy.

 

Is the thought coming from the tree? Is it coming from the greater wisdom within you, from the divine presence that always surrounds you even when you forget it's there? You don't have to figure out where it's coming from. Just notice the message, repeat it so that you don't forget it, and thank the tree for helping you find your way into a meditative state that allowed that thought to give you the strength, courage and stamina to carry on.

 

When you feel ready, say goodbye to the tree and head back to your life full of challenges. No matter what you face, remember the message, the sense of love or joy that filled you with hope and strength. Carry it like a treasure in your mind and repeat it as often as you need to. Write it down somewhere so that in the coming days, when you need it most and have a hard time recalling it, you can find it and be strengthened once again by its powerful message.

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