Hesperoyucca whipplei once widely known as Yucca whipplei is a species of flowering plant closely related to, and formerly usually included in, the genus Yucca. It is native to southern California, United States and Baja California, Mexico and has long been known to not only survive, but to thrive in the UK, particularly in the maritime areas.
It produces a stemless cluster or rosette of long, rigid leaves which end in a very sharp point. The leaves are 20–90cm long and up to 2cm wide,and grey-green in colour. The leaf edges are also finely saw-toothed. This most beautiful of monsters needs to be handled with respect!
The single inflorescence grows extremely fast, and reaches 0.9–3mtall, bearing hundreds of bell shaped white flowers 3cm in diameter on a densely branched panicle up to 70cm across. The foliage is dramatic and fearsome, the flowers incredible, but you will have to be patient as the plant may take several (a least 5) years to reach maturity and flower, at which point the original plant dies, and most then produces offshoots from the base, so that although the parent plant flowers and dies, a cluster of clones around its base continue to grow and reproduce.
Yucca whipplei is known by many colloquial names but most commonly as Chaparral Yucca, Our Lord's Candle, Spanish Bayonet, Quixote Yucca or Foothill Yucca.
The taxonomy of Hesperoyucca whipplei is complex and controversial. Hesperoyucca was described as a genus by Georg Engelmann as long ago as 1892, but it has taken recent DNA analysis to confirm that they are genetically distinct from Yucca. The splitting of Hesperoyucca from Yucca is still not widely reflected in available literature or online, for example the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Royal Horticultural Society websites still do not recognise the name as current.