ter>Yucca & Yucca Moth Wayne"s WordIndexNoteworthy PlantsTriviaLemnaceaeBiology 101BotanySearch
WAYNE"S indigenous Volume 9 (Number 2) Summer 2000
*
The Yucca and also Its MothPollination the That counts On A small Moth modified From: Zoonooz Volume 72 (4): 28-31. April 1999 by Original writer W. P. Armstrong.The genus Yucca is just one of the most remarkable teams of flowering plants aboriginal to the brand-new World. It includes about 40 species, many of which happen in the southwestern united States and also Mexico. Back they space often associated with arid desert regions, some varieties are aboriginal to the southeastern unified States and the Caribbean islands. What important sets this genus apart from other flowering plants is your unique technique of pollination: A particular moth the is genetically programmed for stuffing a small ball that pollen right into the cup-shaped stigma of each flower. Choose fig wasps and acacia ants, the relationship is mutually useful to both partners, and also is an important for the survival of both plant and insect. In fact, yuccas cultivated in the Old World, wherein yucca moths space absent, will certainly not develop seeds uneven they space hand pollinated.

You are watching: Yucca plant/yucca moth symbiotic relationship

*
Chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei) ~ above a remote ridge in the rugged san Gabriel mountains of southerly California.
*
Blossom that chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei) reflecting a male and a female yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata).Depending top top the authority, yuccas space usually inserted in the lily family (Liliaceae) or the agave family (Agavaceae). The surname Yucca is derived from "yuca," a Carib Indian name for the cassava or tapioca tree (Manihot esculenta) the the euphorbia household (Euphorbiaceae). Yucca is likewise the creolian word for cassava. "Yuca" is not to be perplexed with the lovely yellow-flowered morning glory (Merremia aurea) of the Cape an ar of Baja California. Supposedly the connection with starchy cassava roots is that yucca buds and young flower stalks of are also roasted because that food. Yuccas space trunkless shrubs v rosettes the stiff, sword-shaped leaves occurring at soil level, or tree-like with distinctive trunks and limbs. Instances of the rosette forms encompass Spanish bayonet (Y. Baccata) and chaparral yucca (Y. Whipplei). Tree-like forms encompass the Joshua tree (Y. Brevifolia) of the California and also Arizona desert region, and also tree yucca or "datillo" (Y. Vallida) endemic to southern Baja California.
*
A stately Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) in the north Mojave Desert of san Bernardino County, California.
*
Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera), a native varieties in coastal and desert areas of san Diego County. Uneven the chaparral yucca (Y. Whipplei), that produces a compact flower cluster, a distinctive basal stems on old specimens, and also leaves through conspicuous marginal fibers. Back its selection overlaps that of Y. Whipplei, it requires a different species of yucca moth (Tegeticula yuccasella).See much more Photographs of Yucca PlantsYuca (Merremia aurea) in Baja CaliforniaYucca leaves contain bundles of elongate fiber cells which can conveniently be pulled out of the leaf blade prefer strands the thread. The strong leaf yarn are offered for cordage and rope. Bleached, sun-dried yucca pipeline from the Arizona varieties Y. Elata are offered for white coils in Papago Indian baskets. Greenish-yellow design come native unbleached yucca leaves, while red fads are created by a natural dye indigenous yucca roots. The black color designs come indigenous the long, curved ford of Proboscidea parviflora ssp. Parviflora, much better known together devil"s claws or unicorn plants.
*
Yucca elata in southeastern Arizona. The dried pipeline of this varieties are used in Indian basketry.Photos that Papago Yucca BasketsSee Article about Devil"s ClawsCreamy white blossoms are developed in huge erect flower swarm (panicles) during late spring and also summer. In the Mexican varieties (Y. Filifera), the panicles space up to six feet long and are pendent rather than erect. Individual yucca flowers have actually six fleshy petaloid segments which are referred to as tepals by some botanists since the petals and also sepals space indistinguishable. The pistil of every flower terminates in a three-lobed stigma, the lobes in some species with glistening, feathery branches. The stigma lobes surround a main orifice the leads come a recessed receptive stigma. In order for pollination to occur, masses of pollen have to be forced down right into this central stigmatic depression. Herein lies the adaptive advantage and marvelous genetic programming that a tiny moth the is absolutely critical for the survival and perpetuation the yucca plants.
*
Stigma lobes and main stigmatic orifice of the Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera). The woman yucca moth (Tegeticula yuccasella) forces a tiny mass that pollen down into the orifice so that it makes contact with the recessed receptive area, for this reason pollinating the plant.
*
Feathery stigma lobes and main stigmatic depression of the chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei). The mrs yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) presses a pollen mass right into the main stigmatic orifice, therefore pollinating the plant and also insuring seed production and also food for her larva.Several species of Yucca are grew in southerly California, consisting of the Baja California endemic Y. Vallida, the Mojave Desert yucca (Y. Schidigera), and also the chaparral yucca (Y. Whipplei). The latter types grows wild throughout the seaside mountains of southerly California, decorating the chaparral each spring through huge, candle-like flower swarm that may reach 12 feet. In their native habitats, all these yucca species require pollination through a female moth the the genus Tegeticula (Pronuba). For example, the pollinator that Mojave yucca (Y. Schidigera) in the Mojave Desert and also Y. Filamentosa in Missouri is a white moth called T. Yuccasella, while the pollinator that joshua trees (Y. Brevifolia) is a dark gray moth called T. Paradoxa. According to J. Powell and R. Mackie (University that California publications in Entomology Volume 42, 1966), yucca moths are not every host particular because T. Yuccasella was gathered from 19 different types of Yucca.The moth that pollinates Yucca whipplei in the chaparral of san Diego county is Tegeticula maculata. Details the yucca pollination in san Diego county are explained in a fascinating short article by George Cox (Environment Southwest No. 493, 1981). Our regional female yucca moth is a little black moth about 8-10 mm long. In the Transverse range of Los Angeles and also San Bernardino Counties and northward this moth is white with black specks. The chaparral yucca moth is easy to point out in san Diego County among all the moths that arise if friend shake a flower stalk during the feather months. Several of these various other moths include a smaller, whitish varieties in the genus Prodoxus that resides on the yucca plant however does no pollinate the flowers. In fact, Y. Whipplei has three varieties of this non-pollinator "bogus yucca moths."
*
A mrs yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) in the upright pollination place on the pistil of Yucca whipplei. She pressures pollen down right into the main stigmatic depression, for this reason pollinating the flower.Each spring, male and female yucca moths arise from their subterranean cocoons. Lock crawl to the surface and also fly to adjacent yucca plants. Throughout this moth development period, male and female moths maybe rendezvous through each other and mate. Right now the yucca tree have emerged erect flower stalks and the flowers open up one-by-one right into a magnificent inflorescence. At maturity, yucca pollen grains adhere into sticky masses dubbed pollinia, 2 inside every chamber that the anther. Unlike many other flowering plants, the pollen is not dispersed as individual grains. The gravid (pregnant) mrs yucca moth collects as much as a dozen pollinia in ~ the yucca flower and also forms them into a gold mass. She offers a pair that long, curved, prehensile appendages in the mouth an ar (called maxillary palpi) come collect, form and carry the pollen ball. Male yucca moths (and most other moth species) carry out not have actually these significantly enlarged, specially adapted palpi.
*
Close-up watch of the head of a mrs yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) reflecting the prominent, coiled, maxillary palpi. She offers her prehensile palpi come collect, compact and also carry a pollen ball (pollinium). This enlarged, specially adjusted palpi are absent in the male yucca moth.
*
Several pollinia (pollen masses) and a stamen from the flower that chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei). The 2 anther bag at the top of the thick stalk contain tiny pollen masses called pollinia (2 inside each anther sac). The mrs yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) collects approximately a dozen pollinia and also forms them right into a gold ball that pollen.More Photographs the Yucca Moths & Yucca WeevilAt this suggest the woman is all set for egg laying. That is presumed that the moths fly to another plant, together in the well-documented habits of one more yucca moth Tegeticula yuccasella. The mrs moth crawls right into a flower and positions herself on the side of the ovary, head outward, and inserts her egg-laying device (called an ovipositor) into the ovary wall near the partition between surrounding ovary part (carpels). The ovary wall is thinnest near the partition in between carpels. A single, slim egg is put into the ovule room (locule). Currently she is prepared for pollination--the crucial event that allows the perpetuation of every yuccas in the wild.
*
Close-up view of the abdomen the a female yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) showing the slim ovipositor supplied to insert one egg into the ovary of a Yucca whipplei flower.After inserting she egg into the flower ovary, the female moth (still delivering a pollen fixed in she coiled palpi) climbs to the height of the ovary. Uncoiling her palpi from the pollen mass, she color etc them earlier and forth over the stigma, pushing pollen into the central stigmatic depression. This insures pollination the the flower in i m sorry she has deposited one egg. Germinating pollen seed send numerous sperm-bearing pollen tubes into the ovary, bring about the fertilization of thousands of ovules (immature seeds) inside, few of which provide food for the hungry moth larva.
*
Cross section of the ripened ovary that Yucca whipplei showing 6 columns that flattened black seeds (2 columns per carpel).The yucca moth larva hatches within the green developing ovary that the flower throughout late spring and also summer and also begins to feeding on the maturing seeds. It remains inside the ovary (seed capsule) v the summer and also fall, high ~ above a branch the the flower stalk. The seed capsule is written of 3 sections or carpels, each with two columns the seeds. In ~ maturity throughout the fall, approximately 38 flattened black color seeds lie in tightly pack tiers within each column, resembling coins stacked in a dispenser. In the shaft containing the moth larva, 6 to 14 that the seeds in the lower portion of the tier space fastened along with silk, and a robust, pinkish larva rectal a cylindrical feeding cavity within these joined seeds. According to Powell and also Mackie (1966), yucca capsules may be populated by an ext than one larva, but the median number is normally one or two. Back the larva is a particle predator, it just consumes a tiny percentage that the hundreds of seeds within the capsule. Since the larva develops into a moth that pollinates the yucca plant, the connection is clearly beneficial to both partners. Through comparison, the relationship in between the mexican jumping p (Sebastiana pavoniana) and also its symbiotic moth (Laspeyresia saltitans) is plainly one-sided. The moth is a particle predator however plays no function in the pollination the its host shrub.See The WAYNE"S native Jumping p Article
*
Longitudinal section of the seed capsule of Yucca whipplei in October mirroring the larva of a yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata) within its feeding cavity in one of the particle chambers.See Close-Up check out Of Larva inside Joined Seeds
*
Cross ar of the particle capsule that Yucca whipplei in October reflecting the robust larva that a yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata).By late fall, dark brown yucca seeds capsules split open in between the seams the the carpels, releasing numerous black seeds. The pinkish moth larva continues to be inside its little feeding cavity of fused seed within the capsule until the an initial autumn rains. Then it emerges from the capsule and drops come the ground. Part authors report the the larva lowers itself on a strand of silk, yet I have actually never it was observed this top top Yucca whipplei. Upon getting to the floor the larva burrows right into the soil and constructs a silken cocoon covered with grains of sand. The cocoon might be spherical or elongate, about 6-8 millimeter long. The larva remains in the cocoon throughout the winter months until spring rains and warming temperature presumably stimulate pupation and also the development of one adult moth. Cocoons it was observed in bondage did no contain a pupa until shortly prior to the appearance of a moth in spring. The is imperative the the adult moths emerge when yucca plants are when again in bloom so the this exceptional cycle between a moth and a plant can be renewed.
*
The sand-covered, silken cocoon the the chaparral yucca moth (Tegeticula maculata). The preputial larva stays inside this subterranean cocoon throughout the winter months. In spring, once yucca plants are once again in their blooming cycle, the larva experience pupation and soon an adult moth increase from the ground.As winter viewpoints in san Diego County, chaparral yuccas relax their seed as the basal rosettes of leaves die and also turn gray. This point out the perfect of a life cycle that began with a tiny black seed at least six or seven years earlier. The complying with spring brand-new yuccas will certainly sprout indigenous seeds, and also a constant succession the beautiful yucca flower stalks will appear as long as there space undeveloped areas of organic vegetation and yucca moths come pollinate the flowers.

See more: Is Shawn Weatherly Related To Michael Weatherly, Shawn Weatherly

*
A dead, basal sheet rosette and flower stalk that chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei) in ~ the finish of the life cycle. This species takes at the very least 6 or 7 years to bloom and also then it dies.
*