Plants perennial, polycarpic; roots spreading, 2–8 mm diam. Stems short or elongate, often with erect or reclining trunk. Leaves persistent, numerous, forming rosettes, spreading; blade long-linear, fibrous, glabrous, sometimes waxy-glaucous, bases expanded, overlapping, spoon-shaped, margins with sharp, curved prickles, apex fibrous. Inflorescences paniculate, racemose, bracteate; panicles narrow, borne on long, woody stalks; bracts leaflike proximally, stramineous distally, lanceolate; fascicles of dense racemes in axils of bracts. Flowers small, functionally unisexual, some plants with only male flowers, others with only female flowers; floral bracts laciniate, membranous; tepals 6, distinct, whitish, greenish, or purple, obovate, margins denticulate; stamens 6, rudimentary in pistillate flowers; ovary superior, 3-angled, abortive in staminate flowers; style short, ± strap-shaped, slightly expanded at tip; stigma 3-lobed, lobes weakly connate into tube; pedicel of pistillate flowers articulate. Fruits capsular, 1-locular, dry, indehiscent, 3-winged. Seed 1, golden brown, 3-angled, turbinate. x = 19.
Arid, mountainous regions of sw United States and Mexico.
dasylirion species 17 (3 in the flora)
Dasylirion was once a major food source in the desert southwest. The bulbs were roasted in rock-lined pits and pounded into cakes. A potent alcoholic beverage, known as “sotol,” is distilled from the baked and fermented bulbs. Leaves of Dasylirion are widely used to weave baskets.
Species 17 (3 in the flora).
|1||Leaves whitish or bluish green, waxy-glaucous, papillose, dull; marginal prickles all antrorse; fascicles of flowers elongate, branches lateral, pendent, 10–20 cm from base to tip; capsules obovoid, 5–8 × 4–5(–7) mm, distal wing lobes 2–2.5 mm, often indented; Arizona, New Mexico, extreme w Texas.||Dasylirion wheeleri|
|1||Leaves bright green, glabrous, not waxy, smooth, shiny; marginal prickles antrorse, retrorse, or mix of both; fascicles of flowers short, condensed, branches mostly basal, not pendent, 5–12 cm from base to tip; capsules ellipsoid or obovoid, 5–7 × 4–5 mm, distal wing lobes less than 2 mm, rounded, not indented; New Mexico, Texas.||> 2|
|2||Majority of prickles antrorse; leaves 1–2 cm wide; capsules ellipsoid, 5.5–6 × 4–5 mm, distal wing lobes 1–1.5 mm; s edge of Edwards Plateau, Texas.||Dasylirion texanum|
|2||Majority of leaf prickles retrorse; leaves 1.5–3 cm wide; capsules ellipsoid to obovoid, 6–7 × 4–4.5 mm, distal wing lobes 1.5–2 mm; sw Texas, s New Mexico.||Dasylirion leiophyllum|