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

Tuesday - May 15, 2012

From: Arlington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pollinators, Propagation, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Pollinator to Arkansas yucca from Arlington TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Thank you Barbara for your answer. However, my Arkansas yuccas bloom every year, but do not set seed. I am asking for the name of the moth that pollinates them, or other native plants that serve as hosts plants to that pollinator.


Sorry, wish we could help you more. Here is an article from the U.S. Forest Service on the Tegeticula spp., which leads me to believe that is the only pollinator of the yucca. I have no idea if you have any in your area, but if you don't, you may be stuck. I tried searching on Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) first on the name "Tegeticula", which gave me no results and then on "yucca moth," which led me to this article on Prodoxus quinquepunctellus. Since this about uses up our knowledge on the subject, because we are Mr. Smarty Plants and not Mr. Moth, we suggest you go to the BAMONA website and do some research there. It looked to us like both of the moths we found should be in Central Texas, but have no proof of it. Ordinarily, specific moths are very dedicated to a specific plant; this is the case with the yucca moth. It has a special mouth formation to make it possible to pollinate the yucca flower. It seems unlikely that some other pollinator would be attracted to that flower, or be successful in pollinating the yucca if it were.

One other possibility occurs to us. Although Yucca arkansana (Arkansas yucca) is a genuine native plant and, according to this USDA Plant Profile map, is native to Tarrant County, there is something else to consider. Hybridized plants do not breed true, or sometimes even set seeds. There is always the possibility that your yucca is hybridized and was sold as an Arkansas yucca, in which case there is no point in hunting a moth.


More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Trimming back Agave havardiana
June 05, 2008 - Hi.. thanks for all the great information on Agaves. We have a number of Agave Havardiana (blue) that love where we planted them. Several have gotten HUGE. So much so that they are starting to ge...
view the full question and answer

Growing Variegated Century Plants in Portugal
February 09, 2011 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I am contacting you from Portugal, because of century plant(Agave americana). I had one of that plants and I collected the seeds, which I planted, but I am quite disappointed ...
view the full question and answer

Replanting a blue agave in Rio Rancho NM
January 11, 2010 - I have acquired a Blue Agave, approximately 4-5 ft high. It still appears quite healthy. It was used over the holiday season for display purposes in a liquor store. Unfortunately, the root ball has be...
view the full question and answer

Crown rot in Agave americana
June 13, 2007 - My Century Plant's leaves get soft toward the base and eventually fall over and I have to cut them off. What causes this?
view the full question and answer

Care for century plant
June 06, 2007 - What is the best way to care for a Century Plant? We were given one as a gift and don't know what to do with it.
view the full question and answer

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