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WAYNE"S WORD Volume 9 (Number 2) Summer 2000
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The Yucca and also Its MothPollination That That Depends On A Small Moth Modified From: Zoonooz Volume 72 (4): 28-31. April 1999 by Initial Author W. P. Armsolid.The genus Yucca is one of the many amazing groups of flowering plants indigenous to the New World. It includes about 40 species, many of which happen in the southwestern USA and also Mexico. Although they are often connected through arid desert areas, some species are indigenous to the southeastern United States and also the Caribbean islands. What truly sets this genus apart from other flowering plants is their distinct strategy of pollination: A particular moth that is genetically programmed for stuffing a small bevery one of pollen into the cup-shaped stigma of each flower. Like fig wasps and also acacia ants, the relationship is mutually useful to both partners, and is essential for the survival of both plant and also insect. In reality, yuccas grew in the Old World, wright here yucca moths are absent, will certainly not produce seeds unmuch less they are hand pollinated.

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Chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei) on a remote ridge in the rugged San Gabriel Mountains of southern California.
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Blossom of chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei) reflecting a male and also a female yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata).Depfinishing on the authority, yuccas are typically put in the lily family (Liliaceae) or the aprovided household (Agavaceae). The name Yucca is acquired from "yuca," a Carib Indian name for the cassava or tapioca plant (Maniwarm esculenta) of the euphorbia family members (Euphorbiaceae). Yucca is additionally the creole word for cassava. "Yuca" is not to be puzzled via the lovely yellow-flowered morning glory (Merremia aurea) of the Cape Region of Baja The golden state. Apparently the connection via starchy cassava roots is that yucca buds and also young flower stalks of are likewise roasted for food. Yuccas are trunkmuch less shrubs with rosettes of stiff, sword-shaped leaves occurring at ground level, or tree-choose through distinctive trunks and limbs. Instances of the rosette develops incorporate Spanish bayonet (Y. baccata) and also chaparral yucca (Y. whipplei). Tree-favor creates incorporate the Joshua tree (Y. brevifolia) of the California and Arizona desert region, and also tree yucca or "datillo" (Y. vallida) endemic to southern Baja The golden state.
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A stately Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) in the north Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California.
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Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera), a indigenous species in seaside and desert areas of San Diego County. Unchoose the chaparral yucca (Y. whipplei), it produces a compact freduced cluster, a distinctive basal trunk on old specimens, and leaves through conspicuous marginal fibers. Although its range overlaps that of Y. whipplei, it calls for a different species of yucca moth (Tegeticula yuccasella).See More Photographs Of Yucca PlantsYuca (Merremia aurea) in Baja CaliforniaYucca leaves contain bundles of elongate fiber cells which have the right to conveniently be pulled out of the leaf blade like strands of threview. The strong leaf fibers are supplied for cordage and rope. Bleached, sun-dried yucca leaves from the Arizona varieties Y. elata are used for white coils in Papago Indian baskets. Greenish-yellow designs come from unbleached yucca leaves, while red fads are created by a herbal dye from yucca roots. The black deindications come from the long, curved pods of Proboscidea parviflora ssp. parviflora, much better known as devil"s cregulations or unicorn plants.
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Yucca elata in southeastern Arizona. The dried leaves of this species are offered in Indian baskeattempt.Photos Of Papback Yucca BasketsSee Message About Devil"s ClawsCreamy white blossoms are developed in huge erect freduced clusters (panicles) in the time of late spring and summer. In the Mexideserve to species (Y. filifera), the panicles are approximately six feet lengthy and are pendent rather than erect. Individual yucca flowers have six fleshy petaloid segments which are referred to as tepals by some botanists because the petals and also sepals are equivalent. The pistil of each flower terminates in a three-lobed stigma, the lobes in some species via glistening, feathery branches. The stigma lobes surround a central orifice that leads to a recessed receptive stigma. In order for pollicountry to take place, masses of pollen need to be compelled dvery own into this central stigmatic depression. Herein lies the adaptive advantage and marvelous genetic programming of a tiny moth that is absolutely essential for the survival and also perpetuation of yucca plants.
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Stigma lobes and main stigmatic orifice of the Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera). The female yucca moth (Tegeticula yuccasella) forces a little mass of pollen dvery own right into the orifice so that it makes contact through the recessed receptive location, hence pollinating the plant.
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Feathery stigma lobes and also main stigmatic depression of the chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei). The female yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) presses a pollen mass right into the main stigmatic orifice, for this reason pollinating the plant and insuring seed manufacturing and also food for her larva.Several species of Yucca are grew in southern The golden state, including the Baja California endemic Y. vallida, the Mojave Desert yucca (Y. schidigera), and also the chaparral yucca (Y. whipplei). The latter species grows wild throughout the seaside hills of southerly The golden state, decorating the chaparral each spring with huge, candle-choose flower clusters that may reach 12 feet. In their indigenous habitats, all these yucca varieties need pollicountry by a female moth of the genus Tegeticula (Pronuba). For instance, the pollinator of Mojave yucca (Y. schidigera) in the Mojave Desert and Y. filamentosa in Missouri is a white moth named T. yuccasella, while the pollinator of joshua trees (Y. brevifolia) is a dark gray moth named T. paradoxa. According to J. Powell and R. Mackie (College of The golden state Publications in Entomology Volume 42, 1966), yucca moths are not all organize specific because T. yuccasella was collected from 19 various species of Yucca.The moth that pollinates Yucca whipplei in the chaparral of San Diego County is Tegeticula maculata. Details of yucca pollicountry in San Diego County are described in a fascinating write-up by George Cox (Environment Southwest No. 493, 1981). Our local female yucca moth is a little babsence moth around 8-10 mm lengthy. In the Transverse Range of Los Angeles and also San Bernardino Counties and northward this moth is white with babsence specks. The chaparral yucca moth is straightforward to spot in San Diego County among all the moths that arise if you shake a freduced stalk in the time of the spring months. A few of these various other moths incorporate a smaller, whitish species in the genus Prodoxus that resides on the yucca plant yet does not pollinate the flowers. In truth, Y. whipplei contains 3 species of these non-pollinator "bogus yucca moths."
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A female yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) in the upappropriate pollicountry position on the pistil of Yucca whipplei. She forces pollen down into the central stigmatic depression, for this reason pollinating the freduced.Each spring, male and also female yucca moths arise from their subterranean cocoons. They crawl to the surchallenge and fly to adjacent yucca plants. Throughout this moth appearance duration, male and female moths presumably rendezvous through each various other and also mate. At this time the yucca plants have actually emerged erect flower stalks and the flowers open one-by-one right into a magnificent inflorescence. At maturity, yucca pollen grains adright here right into sticky masses dubbed pollinia, two inside each chamber of the anther. Unfavor most other flowering plants, the pollen is not distributed as individual grains. The gravid (pregnant) female yucca moth collects up to a dozen pollinia within the yucca flower and also creates them right into a gold mass. She supplies a pair of lengthy, curved, prehensile appenderas in the mouth region (dubbed maxillary palpi) to collect, develop and lug the pollen ball. Male yucca moths (and most other moth species) carry out not have these considerably enlarged, specially adjusted palpi.
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Close-up check out of the head of a female yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) showing the influential, coiled, maxillary palpi. She uses her prehensile palpi to collect, compact and carry a pollen ball (pollinium). These enlarged, specially adjusted palpi are missing in the male yucca moth.
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Several pollinia (pollen masses) and a stamen from the freduced of chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei). The 2 anther sacs at the optimal of the thick stalk contain little bit pollen masses dubbed pollinia (2 inside each anther sac). The female yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) collects as much as a dozen pollinia and develops them right into a golden bevery one of pollen.More Photographs Of Yucca Moths & Yucca WeevilAt this point the female is prepared for egg laying. It is presumed that the moths fly to an additional plant, as in the well-recorded actions of an additional yucca moth Tegeticula yuccasella. The female moth crawls into a flower and also positions herself on the side of the ovary, head outward, and inserts her egg-laying gadget (dubbed an ovipositor) right into the odiffer wall close to the partition in between nearby odiffer sections (carpels). The odiffer wall is thincolony close to the partition in between carpels. A single, slender egg is put into the ovule chamber (locule). Now she is prepared for pollination--the essential event that enables the perpetuation of all yuccas in the wild.
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Close-up view of the abdomen of a female yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) mirroring the slender ovipositor used to insert an egg right into the ovary of a Yucca whipplei flower.After inserting her egg right into the freduced ovary, the female moth (still transferring a pollen mass in her coiled palpi) climbs to the optimal of the ovary. Uncoiling her palpi from the pollen mass, she draws them earlier and also forth over the stigma, pressing pollen right into the main stigmatic depression. This insures pollicountry of the flower in which she has actually deposited an egg. Germinating pollen grains sfinish numerous sperm-bearing pollen tubes right into the ovary, bring about the fertilization of thousands of ovules (immature seeds) inside, some of which carry out food for the hungry moth larva.
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Cross section of the ripened odiffer of Yucca whipplei reflecting 6 columns of flattened babsence seeds (2 columns per carpel).The yucca moth larva hatches inside the green developing odiffer of the freduced during late spring and summer and also starts to feed on the maturing seeds. It remains inside the ovary (seed capsule) with the summer and autumn, high on a branch of the flower stalk. The seed capsule is written of three sections or carpels, each with two columns of seeds. At maturity during the loss, approximately 38 flattened black seeds lie in tightly packed tiers within each column, resembling coins stacked in a dispenser. In the column containing the moth larva, 6 to 14 of the seeds in the lower portion of the tier are fastened together with silk, and also a durable, pinkish larva occupies a cylindrical feeding cavity within these joined seeds. According to Powell and Mackie (1966), yucca capsules might be populated by more than one larva, but the average number is usually one or 2. Although the larva is a seed predator, it only consumes a little percentage of the thousands of seeds within the capsule. Due to the fact that the larva establishes into a moth that pollinates the yucca plant, the connection is plainly valuable to both partners. By compariboy, the connection between the Mexihave the right to jumping bean (Sebastiana pavoniana) and its symbiotic moth (Laspeyresia saltitans) is plainly one-sided. The moth is a seed predator however plays no duty in the pollicountry of its organize shrub.See The WAYNE"S WORD Jumping Bean Article
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Longitudinal section of the seed capsule of Yucca whipplei in October showing the larva of a yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) inside its feeding cavity in among the seed chambers.See Close-Up View Of Larva Inside Joined Seeds
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Cross area of the seed capsule of Yucca whipplei in October mirroring the durable larva of a yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata).By late fall, dark brvery own yucca seed capsules split open in between the seams of the carpels, releasing hundreds of black seeds. The pinkish moth larva remains inside its little feeding cavity of fprovided seeds within the capsule until the initially fall rains. Then it emerges from the capsule and also drops to the ground. Some authors report that the larva lowers itself on a strand of silk, yet I have actually never before observed this on Yucca whipplei. Upon reaching the ground the larva burrows right into the soil and also constructs a silken cocoon extended with grains of sand also. The cocoon may be spherical or elongate, around 6-8 millimeters long. The larva stays in its cocoon in the time of the winter months till spring rains and warming temperatures presumably stimulate pupation and also the emergence of an adult moth. Cocoons observed in captivity did not contain a pupa until shortly prior to the introduction of a moth in spring. It is imperative that the adult moths arise as soon as yucca plants are when again in bimpend so that this amazing cycle in between a moth and a plant can be renewed.
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The sand-spanned, silken cocoon of the chaparral yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata). The preputial larva stays inside this subterranean cocoon throughout the winter months. In spring, when yucca plants are once aobtain in their blooming cycle, the larva undergoes pupation and soon an adult moth emerges from the ground.As winter ideologies in San Diego County, chaparral yuccas release their seeds as the basal rosettes of leaves die and turn gray. This marks the completion of a life cycle that started with a small black seed at leastern 6 or salso years previously. The complying with spring brand-new yuccas will sprout from seeds, and also a constant succession of beautiful yucca freduced stalks will certainly show up as long as tright here are unoccurred areas of herbal vegetation and also yucca moths to pollinate the flowers.

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A dead, basal leaf rosette and also freduced stalk of chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei) at the finish of its life cycle. This species takes at leastern 6 or 7 years to bimpend and then it dies.
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