Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yucca, Yucca Moths, and Bogus Yucca Moths

Yucca is not native to Japan, but it does well here in our area. This one has been planted in a cozy, reflecting spot against a wall.

It does well with this one caveat — there's no one around to pollinate it, so any plant you see is at an evolutionary dead end. The Yucca in the United States, Mexico, and Caribbean rely on female moths of the genus Tegeticula to deposit pollen into the stigma of each flower. Without these moths, and absent anyone to hand pollinate them, the flowers won't produce seeds.

In their native habitat they are also host — and I love this term — to "bogus yucca moths," smaller moths that reside in the relative safety of the flowers, but don't do any of the heavy lifting/pollinating work.

My guess is that some day in the misty future, these "bogus" moths will — like the much-maligned and removed appendix in the human body — be shown to serve some useful purpose and will have to be renamed.

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