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Huge Yucca Elephantipes/Gigantea around London


UK_Palms

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I have noticed these things growing like rockets around London to the point that they start dominating their space. They seem to gain quite a bit of vertical height very quickly as well in these sheltered London gardens. I'm assuming they were all planted as tiny 'houseplants' from B&Q and Homebase, which have grown big. These are found everywhere in London now as you will see...

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This one I have already posted before. It's one of the biggest for sure. 

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Check out the size of this south London Elephantipes in Peckham...!!!

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Here's another big one in a Chiswick front garden, however I cannot find the exact street view location of it unfortunately. 

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There's plenty more out there...

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@Axel Amsterdam Anymore you can contribute to this list? I know you are the main guy for uncovering Yucca's in northwest Europe. I have spotted far bigger ones in the past around London, but I can't remember where they are exactly now? I'm pretty sure I have missed 2-3 of the biggest London Elephantipes...? I couldn't find the exact location the big multi-head one in Chiswick. 

 

Edited by UK_Palms
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Dry-summer Oceanic climate (9a)

Average annual precipitation - 18.7 inches : Average annual sunshine hours - 1725

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Of course it's much warmer here on O`ahu.  This is one I believe.  Lost name tag years ago.  It's been in the ground from a cutting for at least 22 years.  Photo is about 2 years old.

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Steve

Born in the Bronx

Raised in Brooklyn

Matured In Wai`anae

I can't be held responsible for anything I say or do....LOL

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On 1/24/2022 at 12:33 AM, Swolte said:

Nice, what's the coldest these would have seen?

Most of these specimens probably haven't seen anything colder than about -5C / 23F back in February 2018. Some of them in the most protected parts of central London may not have seen colder than around -3C / 27F at street level, during the February 2018 freeze. All of London's official Met Office recordings are done right out in the open, away from buildings, either at the airports or at parks, so it is probably a few degrees colder in those exposed locations, compared to a protected spot at street level, which probably has its own microclimate. 

Dry-summer Oceanic climate (9a)

Average annual precipitation - 18.7 inches : Average annual sunshine hours - 1725

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@WaianaeCrider It certainly looks like an Elephantipes at first glance, however the fronds/leaflets also don't look that firm/rigid, although it could just be the camera angle. Elephantipes has very stiff, rigid, strong, pointy and almost dagger like leaf tips. The ones in your photo look a bit softer, more flexible and droop more, almost like you could push your hand down on the leaf tips and it would bend. If you try to push your hand down on the leaf tips of the London Elephantipes you are going straight to the hospital. They are like daggers and will impale you. It may be the same with your one too, although it does look slightly different in that regard. Softer and less rigid. Either way your Yucca looks really good and healthy! :greenthumb:

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Dry-summer Oceanic climate (9a)

Average annual precipitation - 18.7 inches : Average annual sunshine hours - 1725

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27 minutes ago, UK_Palms said:

@WaianaeCrider It certainly looks like an Elephantipes at first glance, however the fronds/leaflets also don't look that firm/rigid, although it could just be the camera angle. Elephantipes has very stiff, rigid, strong, pointy and almost dagger like leaf tips. The ones in your photo look a bit softer, more flexible and droop more, almost like you could push your hand down on the leaf tips and it would bend. If you try to push your hand down on the leaf tips of the London Elephantipes you are going straight to the hospital. They are like daggers and will impale you. It may be the same with your one too, although it does look slightly different in that regard. Softer and less rigid. Either way your Yucca looks really good and healthy! :greenthumb:

I went down and checked.  Yup no danger touching the tip.  But according to this book there is no terminal spine for Y elephantipes.

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Steve

Born in the Bronx

Raised in Brooklyn

Matured In Wai`anae

I can't be held responsible for anything I say or do....LOL

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51 minutes ago, UK_Palms said:

@WaianaeCrider It certainly looks like an Elephantipes at first glance, however the fronds/leaflets also don't look that firm/rigid, although it could just be the camera angle. Elephantipes has very stiff, rigid, strong, pointy and almost dagger like leaf tips. The ones in your photo look a bit softer, more flexible and droop more, almost like you could push your hand down on the leaf tips and it would bend. If you try to push your hand down on the leaf tips of the London Elephantipes you are going straight to the hospital. They are like daggers and will impale you. It may be the same with your one too, although it does look slightly different in that regard. Softer and less rigid. Either way your Yucca looks really good and healthy! :greenthumb:

Actually, Y. elephantipes ( ** Correctly : Y. gigantea,   Elephantipes is a synonym **  Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_gigantea       iNat: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/201452-Yucca-gigantea   iNat Taxon swap: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxon_changes?taxon_id=201452    ) Has soft tipped leaves compared to many other Yucca sp ( ..is one of it's common names also ) 

Grew up with plenty  of theses around.. Tips are not rigid / stiff like many other Yucca sp., though the leaves themselves have finite teeth along the margins that will slice n' dice anyone grabbing them while trimming..  Much experience w/ this, lol!  EASY to root cuttings though.

VERY common landscape staple in San Jose / other parts of CA. in the 80's / early 90's.. < Almost every other yard in some parts of my neighborhood had one.. Or several >.  Many are gone now ( People got tired of them breaking / swallowing up sidewalks / suckering, and the damage caused by some beetle that showed up that can destroy the heads causing them to snap off in wind storms ) Very hard to completely eliminate the big ones when cut down / root ball chopped up and removed < as best as possible >

Always suffered damage in the high mid 20s.. Used these to gauge how bad a cold spell around the 'hood back home.

Edited by Silas_Sancona
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"Yucca elephantipes" is extremely variable, ranging from the needle sharp form in the London photos to forms with wider, larger and much more relaxed/floppy leaves. The more "tropical looking" forms are less cold hardy. The sharp-narrow form is commonly sold here and has withstood upper teens (-7 to -8C) with major leaf burn in previous freezes. 

 

Jonathan

Katy, TX (Zone 9a)

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14 minutes ago, Silas_Sancona said:

VERY common landscape staple in San Jose / other parts of CA. in the 80's / early 90's.. < Almost every other yard in some parts of my neighborhood had one.. Or several >.  Many are gone now ( People got tired of them breaking / swallowing up sidewalks / suckering, and the damage caused by some beetle that showed up that can destroy the heads causing them to snap off in wind storms ) Very hard to completely eliminate the big ones when cut down / root ball chopped up and removed < as best as possible >

Always suffered damage in the high mid 20s.. Used these to gauge how bad a cold spell around the 'hood back home.

huh, so that's why all the big elephantipes I see around LA are cut back and resprouted. Wonder which year it happened, as it doesn't get below 32 usually. Still quite a few big ones including one with at least 8-9 feet circumference i've seen

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3 minutes ago, spike said:

huh, so that's why all the big elephantipes I see around LA are cut back and resprouted. Wonder which year it happened, as it doesn't get below 32 usually. Still quite a few big ones including one with at least 8-9 feet circumference i've seen

Possible.. Up in San Jose you'd see big ones where the heads were oozing sap ..or the heads laying on the ground after storms. Would see people cutting them up more and more after awhile before i left the area in the late 90s.  Still see some around town up there, but far less common in yards then they used to be.  A place my mom rented had one where the base was easily 7-8ft in diameter. Gone now.

As far as cold.. While not  something that occurs every year, you knew it dropped below 28F in X area of town for several hours when you'd see burnt or melted heads on these in yards after a particularly nasty cold snap.  After a trim, would be hard to spot any damage experienced by the following summer ( unless chopped down completely ). 

On a similar note, White Birds used to be non existent / a super sight up there until roughly 93-94 when some newer developments started planting them. Imo, Still don't look as great as they can down south in many cases,  but have survived where planted since then.

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On 1/25/2022 at 5:04 AM, WaianaeCrider said:

I went down and checked.  Yup no danger touching the tip.  But according to this book there is no terminal spine for Y elephantipes.

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Steve, i have a similar softer elephantipes. They are slightly larger and also somewhat glossier than the regular ones

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The beautiful large floppy tropical looking forms can also get a fungal or bacterial rot in the trunk in hot humid weather, which is probably why you don’t see them much here or in Florida. I’ve tried this one from a cutting and the stems eventually give out after a few years. The form most frequently seen around here looks a lot like what is growing on the Yucatán peninsula.

 

Yucca elephantipes tropical.jpg

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In a search for finding out more about the soft tip yucca i had a look on streetview in various coutries in south America. From Mexico down to Argentina i only found the regular sharp tipped elephantipes. 

It really seems a puzzle where the tropical form originated from and why they are still around in the USA and mediterranean Europe and so rare in South America. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Cheers for posting these @Axel Amsterdam How did you manage to find that Fulham one? I spent ages looking on street view and couldn't for the life of me find it! The street view image is almost 3 years old now, and it has grown a bit since then, but at least we have the location nailed on. London must be one of the best cities in the world (outside of Mexico) to see Yucca Elephantipes due to the sheer concentration of them. There's so many specimens, and many of decent size now. They may even be more common than Trachy's or CIDP's in London now. 

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Here's the other one you located, after it had received a tidy up.

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Check out these London Elephantipes that I have spotted. They are insane. They need their trunks trimming.

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Another slightly further down that same road...

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Here's two clumps that I photographed in person last month when I visited southeast London. This is right on the outskirts of London. There is a big CIDP nearby and some huge Washingtonia too. I turned down a side road and suddenly spotted these Elephantipes. You can only imagine how many more are lurking out there. 

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Here are a few others that I missed off. I've probably seen hundreds of others on street view a while back, but wasn't interested in screenshotting them at the time.

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Of course there is also that Elephantipes located next to the big Norfolk Island Pine in Fulham as well...

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Slightly off topic, but I have just spotted this beauty in the tropic of London while searching for Yucca's. Another CIDP to add to the already gigantic list of London CIDP's. It reaches up to the 3rd floor windows pretty much, so it must be at least 25 foot tall...

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Dry-summer Oceanic climate (9a)

Average annual precipitation - 18.7 inches : Average annual sunshine hours - 1725

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  • 6 months later...

I have been meaning to update this thread in a while. Here are some more new London Elephantipes that I have located, including a bunch that I photographed in central London last month. As you can see, many of them are in flower. I believe these are becoming naturalised in the London area too now. They are by far one of the most common exotic planting.

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Here's a few updates on others that I have previously posted...

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Dry-summer Oceanic climate (9a)

Average annual precipitation - 18.7 inches : Average annual sunshine hours - 1725

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Nice photos, I definitely prefer these to cordyline australis being planted in London. @UK_PalmsI thought you might find this interesting, one of the Davis stations readings in St Paul's central London and from st Agnes (Scilly isles). Top is central London bottom is st Agnes.

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Hah, what's funny is how inappropriately planted so many of them are, and how weird they look in the gardens. I've seen temperate gardens that have made beautiful use of yuccas, palms, etc., but not the ones in these photos!

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@UK_PalmsA new Davis station has been setup in one of the zone 10a spots of London. It will be interesting to see the temperature readings on this during the winter. The new one is on the right the older one is on the left which recorded a low of 34f and it's near some greenery unlike the new one.

Screenshot_20221013-165617611 (1).jpg

Edited by Foxpalms
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  • 8 months later...

Plenty of these mature specimens in my area in south Devon they are getting abit more mainstream in the garden centre trade and sold as 3-4ft specimens that have clearly been grown outside rather than the floppy houseplant type sold in DIY stores 

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