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By Rickett H.W.

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April-June. Perennial. AMARANTHACEAE Pigweed Family The Amaranthaceae are a family of annual or perennial herbs with small, crowded flowers. There are usually 5 sepals and no petals. Filaments of the stamens are often united into a short tube. Familiar examples of this family include the cockscomb (Celosia) and the common pigweed (Amaranthus). Froelichia gracilis Slender Snakecotton 10 The slender snakecotton grows 1-2 feet high and is unbranched except for the flower stems. These are covered with soft, minute hairs.

Spring. Perennial. Another species, Agave havardiana, is similar in appearance but more narrowly distributed, occurring mostly in West Texas. Hesperaloe parviflora Red Yucca Red yucca grows 3-6 feet tall and rarely has a leaf or branch except right at the base. It has many stiff, narrow, sharp-pointed leaves at the base, with margins that become frayed and threadlike. The red flowers are scattered along the upper part of the stem and bloom from the bottom up. The petals form a tube l/2-3A inch long, finetoothed at the opening, showing a tip of yellow on the inside.

The leaves have many fibers that can be dried, after the pulp is removed, and used in making rope. Three intoxicating beverages—pulque, mescal, and tequila—are made from the sap and sold commercially. The century plant is most impressive in its flowering stage, when from the center of the rosette a stalk, 4-6 inches in diameter and similar in appearance to asparagus, grows rapidly to a height of 12-20 feet, sometimes growing as much as 18 inches a day. From the upper third of this stalk grow stout stems il/2-$ feet long, each ending in an upturned cluster (6-12 inches in diameter) of yellow tubular flowers.

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Botany for Gardeners by Rickett H.W.


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