This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I wish I could show you here a full-grown specimen of the Yucca gloriosa. It is quite common in this region, and is one of the first objects in the Texas vegetable world that attracts the attention of the new comer from the more Northern States. The wood resembles that of the palm tree; in fact we regard it as a species of Palm. The two very striking peculiarities of this Yucca are the leaves and its enormous bloom. The leaves are about two or two and a half inches broad at the base, and from a foot to three feet long, according to variety. These leaves are composed of a strong fibrous substance, are thick enough and sufficiently rigid to stand out as straight as a line. They gradually diminish in width until they terminate in a heavy thorn as sharp as a needle. They are so closely set upon the body and summit of the tree that their bases crowd each other. As they thus radiate in every direction they constitute a stubborn barrier in protection of the tree. So formidable are these leaves that the tree bearing them has received here the common name of "dagger tree".
As the tree increases in height the undermost leaves drop, exposing the smooth bark below them. It attains the height of from twelve to fifteen feet. So, now you can imagine the appearance of this Yucca, as its head of great green swords, supported by the clean naked trunk, constitutes the entire tree. Sometimes the trunk branches out and supports several such heads as we have described, often so closely pressed together as to appear to constitute one gigantic crown of monstrous thorns. About the first of March a spike shoots upward from the center and here grow the flowers, an enormous plume sometimes three feet long and eighteen inches in diameter, and so compactly placed as to seem a solid mass. The ruling color is a rich, shining creamy white, which is varied by a light tinge according to the sub-variety.
The tree itself is beautiful, and when it is surmounted by its glittering plume in such a gay contrast with its long bright green leaves, the Yucca gloriosa is certainly a prince in the floral kingdom. I have seen this flower at a full distance of two miles when circumstances were all favorable to a distant view. I have seen strangers from the North point to one of these trees in bloom and say, "If I could have that tree placed in my yard just as it is, I would freely give fifty dollars".