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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.

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

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Friday - March 11, 2016

From: Phoenix , AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Removing Center Stem From Desert Spoon (Sotol) in Phoenix
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

I have a desert spoon. I hate the center stem. Can I remove the center stem without hurting the rest of the plant? And what is the best way to remove it? I looked for this answer in your questions but didn't find it.

ANSWER:

The center stem you refer to is the flower of Dasylirion wheeleri (Common sotol) and is one of the plant's most distinctive features. This flower attracts bees, hummingbirds and can even be baked and the juice distilled to make an alcoholic drink called sotol. Are you sure you want to get rid of that?

If you are bound and determined, then how to remove it? The same way porcupines mate - veeeery carefully. Those leaves will slice you up if they get hold of you. Wear protective clothing (including eyeware) and reach in with long handled loppers if it is small or a pole saw if it is big.

Again, are you really sure you want to do that?

 

From the Image Gallery


Common sotol
Dasylirion wheeleri

Common sotol
Dasylirion wheeleri

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