En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 19, 2010

From: Torrance, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Branches of yucca being blown down in Torrance CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a Yucca tree about 30 ft tall. Lately when the wind picks up in Torrance we have had about 3 branches fall out of the tree. Can you help me with this. I don't want to cut all of the branches off but our safety is in question here.


We think you may have answered your own question, in terms of safety. Someone standing under a 30-ft. yucca tree when it fell would probably get hurt, not just from the weight of the branch but from those long dagger-like leaves on the yucca. We looked at the four members of the Yucca genus native to California, and decided this sounded most like Yucca brevifolia (Joshua tree). Our page on this plant in the Native Plant Database says this can grow from 5 to 40 feet, and that it is native to the Mojave Desert. We don't think this is the sort of thing you should try to deal with, we know we wouldn't, and recommend you call in an expert in yuccas to help you make the decision whether trimming it would be adequate or the whole plant needs to come down. And then they can take care of it. 


From the Image Gallery

Joshua tree
Yucca brevifolia

Joshua tree
Yucca brevifolia

Joshua tree
Yucca brevifolia

Joshua tree
Yucca brevifolia

More Pruning Questions

Cutting back perennials in PA
July 25, 2011 - Can you pinch back echinacea in the spring to produce a shorter plant? I have some that get too tall and fall over.
view the full question and answer

Pruning guidance for Carolina buckthorn from Houston
October 23, 2012 - I have a Carolina Buckthorn in my back patio that I planted in fall 2001. The summer of 2003 the roofers dropped something off the back and broke the top 10-12 inches off. I have tried to train the la...
view the full question and answer

Sprout from a non-native sago palm in Poinciana FL
October 16, 2013 - I have two mature (10 years old)sago palms. One of them sprouted a new "head' at the top of the trunk. It is competing with the original one. It is not a pup coming from the root area. Can I cut it ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning practices from Austin
May 16, 2013 - I need to do some pruning in my front beds and I know nothing about plants. From what I have been able to identify I have bicolor irises, plumbago, Japanese Aralia. I don't even know where to begin o...
view the full question and answer

What about the brown dots on my Silver sage?
June 27, 2008 - During the past year, the leaves on my silver sage bushes around the perimeter of the front of my house have turned yellow in places and there are tiny brown dots on virtually all of the leaves. If I ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center