RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Heralding in the spring in southernmost Texas, yuccas, or pitas as they are known in Spanish, are in peak bloom throughout the wildlands.
While some of the so-called Spanish daggers are just starting to thrust their bloom spikes skyward, others are fully opening their creamy white flowers to the morning sun.
As they begin unfurling their petals, various hues of rich purple and reddish shades often appear, before the mature bloom glows a radiant white.
Sure, we may have some cool weather on the horizon, but if the yuccas are any indication then winter’s grip is slipping fast.
Yuccas bloom in deep South Texas from early January thru March. In some years the bloom is sporadic, while in others they flower in magnificent unison, and a view from the air fully reveals their extensive beauty.
Yuccas are not only beautiful to behold, but they are also one of the most useful plants in the region and helped sustain the indigenous people and early Spanish settlers.
The flowers are edible, the stalk is edible and the leaves can be used for making rope. The roots are an excellent source for soap. In the early 1900s, a Chicago company produced a popular soap using yucca root.
Yuccas also provide food and shelter for wildlife, and this chachalaca is enjoying a tasty snack of pita petals.
Many birds, such as the Aplomado Falcon, build their nests within the protective spines of the Spanish dagger.
One of the best places to see blooming yuccas is the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge east of Rio Hondo.
It is a magical season in the South Texas wildlands, but the annual flowering of the pitas is fleeting, so venture out and savor the splendor while it lasts in the land of the yucca.