Spoons, Spikes, and Speculation

Posted on May 21, 2008. Filed under: Musings, Philosophy, Travel |

I can’t believe I’m writing about my Desert Spoon Plant yet again. I didn’t think it was all that interesting the first time, but events have transpired…

I just got home from a week-long trip to my neighboring state. I’d taken a walk ’round my neighborhood before I left, as I do almost every day, and all appeared to be well. I didn’t tell you in my earlier post (about the Desert Spoon in front of my kitchen window) that I also have an even bigger one right in the middle of my front garden. This one doesn’t bother me the way the kitchen window one does, though, as there is lots of room for it to stick out its prickly leaves. Or fronds. Or whatever it is this beastie has.

Desert Spoons look like this most of the year, but every two or three years, in early summer, they’ll shoot a spike right up their middles. This is a fast-growing spike, and contains all the fun and heartbreak of their particular form of fertility. I’ve observed my very large Spoon do this twice in the several years I’ve lived here, (once with two spikes on the one plant—I was a neighborhood phenomenon!), but the kitchen window Spoon, I thought, was too young for this sort of behavior.

Alas, she’s all grown up. Literally. I’d said in my other post that she took up Too Much Room for the small area in front of the window. I was just away from home for one week, and when I arrived home I was frightened at first, as I thought an extremely thin and tall man was standing in front of my house. In Only One Week, both my Desert Spoons sent up spikes that are currently about six feet tall. They’re already too tall for me to look ’em in the eye, and they’re bound to get about 3-5 feet taller still. So now, when I look out my kitchen window, hoping to glance at the mountains, or the palms, or the citrus trees, I see this ginormous spike sticking straight up. It looks a bit like a very healthy, extremely large asparagus spear. This is because it hasn’t flowered yet. When it does, I’ll know its gender, as each individual plant is one or the other, and has different flowers. I’ve already called Kitchen Window Spoon a “she” as I know the other one is a male. I’m hoping to have one of each!

I re-read my previous Spoon post, and I said there that I was going to have the plant removed before 2008 is over. I still intend to do that, but I just can’t right now, can I? It’s having a spike, and is going to make flowers, and it just wouldn’t be right to cut it down in its prime. Darn.

The weird thing about this (as if having a spike on each plant in the same year wasn’t strange enough) is that, during my walk around the neighborhood today I saw that Nearly Every Spoon I saw on my half-hour walk had a spike! What’s going on? In my admittedly limited experience of the Sonoran Desert, I have never seen such a thing before. Is this a particularly fertile year? Does it have something to do with global warming? Have aliens visited and sprinkled Spoon fertilizer among us? We’ve been having rather strange weather, too. I’m a little bit disturbed, but I shall post bravely on. Tomorrow: my thoughts about Santa Fe; and then—Conference Notes 101!

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10 Responses to “Spoons, Spikes, and Speculation”

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What a disturbing thing to happen while you are away…closest thing I can think of is watching for bulbs to come up and unfurl from a bud. Spooky goings on all right….wonder if they are discussing this on local radio…in regard to how common it is. Does it only have one spike per plant? Its a whole lot of greenery for one spike…am all for getting rid of it but now you are thwarted while this goes on. So how long does the pike last and are the flowers coloured or green?

Just got back from seeing Indie! Hope you are able to catch up on your rest after the trip. Welcome back…see you go away and hope to have new blogging material and it is here at home all along…though you had to go away to truly appreciate it!

Welcome back!

I’ve never heard of these fascinating plants and I hope you’ll post photos of the spikes. The drawing sort of resembles a bathroom brush, ya know? πŸ™‚

Hope you enjoyed the movie, Magik! I’m looking forward to it, it’s been such a long time since IJ has been around. Thanks for welcoming me back. It’s good to be back on my own computer-beastie again. Yes, these plants usually only have one spike per plant, every 2-3 years, but occasionally they’ll come up with two spikes, as my larger one did that one time. (Twins?) I feel a little silly posting about this right away, instead of my activities while away, but this spikey thing was so “in-my-face” (literally) I could hardly help myself. The spikes would stay there forever, just about, if we gardeners would let them. After flowering, they begin to dry up, and by the end of the summer it looks like a big stick or toothpick is sticking out of an otherwise (fairly) reasonable plant. Before winter, we’ll get in there with a small saw, and cut off the spike near the root. It doesn’t harm the plant, as the spike is spent at that point, and this actually encourages it to grow even more the next season. The flowers are pale green on the male plant, and white on the female. I’ll have more to say about that in my response to ella, below. πŸ™‚

ella, LOL! They do exactly resemble bathroom brushes; the drawing represents them very well. While my spikes currently do look like asparagus spears (Vegetables gone wild! Side dishes take over the World!), when they flower, the male plant looks like the drawing shown in the middle of the plant, while the female flowers are like those in the separate one on the right. Neither is very pretty, so your asking me to post pictures is just encouraging them! πŸ˜‰ Also, that would mean I’d have to learn how to take decent pictures…well, I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, trust me, the pic and drawing I have posted here are very accurate. I’ll see if I can come up with a photo of a larger swath of desert which shows the Spoons in all their (non) glory, amongst other desert flora. Thanks for your welcome back! I’m happy to be home.

I went to wiki and saw some photos of this in bloom. It seems a bit like a Yucca or Yuca. It’s too bad it is in the way because I like it!

I can imagine your surprise when you got home. I guess we will have to wait to find out the fate of the kitchen window Desert Spoon. πŸ™‚

Good to see you back and I hope you enjoyed your trip. Take Care

Thanks for your good thoughts, BD. I hadn’t been anywhere for a while, so it was good to get away for a variety of reasons. I have nothing against my friend the Desert Spoon, and I would not wish it gone, except, uncontained, it pokes people as they come up the walk! It’s a bit like living in a very small apartment, and deciding to adopt a tiny chihuahua puppy, and then having it inexplicably grow up into a huge St. Bernard.
I will leave the poor plant alone at least until it’s finished blooming. I think I could find a good home for it after that. (Are you interested, bead? I’m sure Canada would love for me to ship it to you!) πŸ™‚

We once lived in a rented house and there was a rose bush which ripped our clothes every time we walked up the path to the door. I trimmed it to no avail and finally removed it. Big mistake…it was the favourite flower of the landlord’s dead brother…was I ever in the doghouse after that. I had asked them again and again to do something about it and realise now that I should have saved it somehow in a pot. At least this is yours to remove….you won’t be treading on anyones toes will you?

Ha! The last time we had something mailed from the States they had ripped it open and taped it back up. Half crumpled. Maybe I’m on some list….. πŸ™‚

Hi, Magik, I’m sorry about your landlord’s brother’s rose bush 😦 , but really it’s just rude to allow our plants to poke and scratch at guests, isn’t it? πŸ˜‰ My lovely Spoon has rows of sharp little teeth all along each leaf or frond or whatever. I don’t have a landlord to deal with here, but we do have a homeowners association which is responsible for the maintenance of streets and common areas in our little housing development, and has rules we’ve agreed to. Theoretically, each front garden is supposed to have a tree (from a specified list) and a minimum of three desert shrubs or cacti (also from a specified list). These are (again theoretically) meant to preserve the desert environment, and be of low water usage, which is important in these parts. So I can’t go wild and plant an English garden, at least not in front of the house. Plants like rose bushes are not technically allowed, but several of my neighbors have sneaked them in, and as long as no one complains, it seems to be OK. I love roses, but they require a great deal of care to thrive in this climate. (And, as you’ve said, could also attack my visitors) πŸ˜€

That sort of mail-handling is pretty typical all over these days, I think, BD. Aww, and I’d thought I’d found my poor beastie a home. πŸ˜‰ It probably wouldn’t be ecstatic to be out of its desert, anyway.

[…] latter erroneous supposition was put to rest when I met Fred. Fred has been living under the Desert Spoon in my front yard now for four years. I’m pretty sure he’s the same lizard each year, […]

[…] about my trials and tribulations with this ubiquitous shrub before (here and amazingly enough, again here.) I swore I would not do this…but, seriously, the Spoon near my kitchen window was getting so […]


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