Common Sotol Plant Information
Common Sotol grows in the following 3 states:Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
Dasylirion wheeleri (desert spoon, spoon flower, or common sotol) is a flowering plant native to arid environments of northern Mexico, in Chihuahua and Sonora and in the southwestern United States, in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, and also in New Mexico and Texas.
Dasylirion wheeleri is a moderate to slow-growing evergreen shrub with a single unbranched trunk up to 40cm (16in) thick growing to 1.5m (4ft 11in) tall, though often recumbent on the ground. The leaf blade is slender, 35-100cm long, gray-green, with a toothed margin. The leaves radiate from the center of the plant's apex in all directions (spherical).
The flowering stem grows above the foliage, to a height of 5m (16ft) tall, and 3 cm in diameter. The stem is topped by a long plume of straw-colored small flowers about 2.5cm long with six tepals. The color of the flower determinate the gender of the plant, being mostly white colored for males and purple-pink for females. The fruit is an oval dry capsule 5-8mm long, containing a single seed.
D. wheeleri is grown as an ornamental plant, valued in xeriscaping. As it does not tolerate extended frosts, in temperate regions it is usually grown under glass. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
The alcoholic drink sotol, the northern cousin to tequila and mezcal, is made from the fermented inner cores of the desert spoon. It is the state drink of the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila.
It was also used by the natives of the region for food and fiber. Its flower stalk can be used as a fire plow.
The Tarahumara and Pima Bajo peoples of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua weave baskets from the leaves after they strip off the spines from the leaf margins. They also employ the expanded leaf bases in making large artificial flowers as holiday decorations.
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