Yucca Plant Features
- The yucca plant produces creamy flowers.fleure de yucca image by photlook from Fotolia.com
The yucca plant has long, fibrous stalks at the tips of which its pale cream-colored flowers bloom during late spring and early summer. In the Mexican species (Y. filifera), the flower clusters are up to 6 feet long and are pendant rather than stiff. The plant has wide leaves with sharp edges at its base. Yucca plants vary in height; some can reach the height of a small tree.
Yucca Moth Function
- The yucca flower is pollinated by the yucca moth inside the flower stigma.white flowers of yucca image by rafalwit from Fotolia.com
The yucca moth is genetically programmed to insert a small ball of pollen into the cup-shaped stigma of each flower. Pollination will not take place unless a huge amount of pollen is stuffed into the stigmatic space. The pollination process is crucial to the survival of both the plant and the moth.
- The yucca moth pollinates the yucca flower.moth image by Colette MacDonald from Fotolia.com
Each spring, male and female yucca moths emerge from their underground homes, crawl to the surface and fly to the closest yucca plants. The pregnant female yucca moth collects pollen grains within the yucca flowers and assembles them into a pollen mass. She then crawls into a flower and lays a single egg into the ovule chamber.
- The pregnant yucca moth inserts her egg into the ovary of the yucca flowerflaming mohave yucca image by Brenton W Cooper from Fotolia.com
After inserting her egg into the yucca flower ovary, the female moth (who is still carrying the pollen mass) climbs to the top of the ovary and puts the pollen into the flower stigma by moving her palpi (sensory organs) back and forth above it. This pollinates the flower in which she has inserted her egg. The germination of the pollen sends many sperm-bearing tubes inside the ovary which fertilizes hundreds of immature seeds.
- The relationship between the yucca flower and yucca moth is equally crucial to both.pointe image by Christine Lamour from Fotolia.com
Apart from ensuring the perpetuity of the yucca flower, the relationship is equally vital to the yucca moth. The moth larva hatches within the developing ovary of the flower and starts feeding on the maturing seeds.This is an important stage in the life cycle of the moth as it later develops from the larva; in the fall the larva comes out of the capsule and lowers itself to the ground where it burrows into the soil and assembles a cocoon. It hibernates here over winter and emerges in the spring as an adult moth, in sync with the blooming of the yucca flower.