When walking through my garden, I never seem to notice the Hesperaloe parviflora, (not parvifolia, as some think,) probably because it is so ubiquitous here in Arizona. The shrub has narrow, stiff leaves that have white, hairy fibers on the margins. A few times a year, it sends up tall spikes that carry salmon pink, tube-shaped flowers that eventually form walnut-sized seedpods. The numerous black seeds, packed tightly into the four quarters of the pod, look remarkably like Pringles®. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this shrub when it’s flowering, so that makes up for its nondescript appearance when the flower stalks are gone.
H. parviflora (Red Yucca) is not a yucca at all, but closely related to the yucca genus (not the aloe genus, as some think). Red Yucca is native to the Chihuahuan desert (not the Sonoran desert as some think) and it grows in USDA zones 5-10. This slow-growing shrub can take temperatures from freezing lows to the harshest summers, but it won’t take heavy, constantly wet soil.
The flowers are long lived. Most folks cut the stalk back as it begins to dry, but the stalk with just the seedpods adds interest and texture to the garden. I love to see this shrub planted in large groupings of five to seven, especially when the grouping includes a few of the newer, H. parviflora ‘Yellow’ cultivar. The grouped shrubs send up hundreds of flower stalks that last for months, brightening even the most barren landscape.