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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Thursday - November 10, 2011

From: NYC, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Need help with yucca palm in New York City, NY.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have had my yucca palm plant for almost 10 years. The bark has started to peel off although leaves seem fine. The second smaller separate yucca plant has half its bark and trunk gone. I can't see any bugs and the leaves seem fine . The smaller seems to be a goner but I don't want to loose the big one. The bark is peeling but the trunk is still solid. please help asap. Thanks

ANSWER:


Mr. Smarty Plants is a little confused about this question. First of all, the name yucca palm is a common name that is used to describe several different plants (click here) . Also, the genus Yucca doesn’t naturally occur in New York City, or New York state for that matter. Is your plant an indoor plant, or is it in a pot on a patio?

Another point of confusion is the use of the term" bark". I took this definition from the Succulent Plant Page.

“Bark - the protective exterior covering of the roots, stems and branches of woody plants, exterior to the cambium and including an inner layer of secondary phloem.”

Yucca plants are not considered woody plants, don’t have a cambium, and thus technically don’t have bark. As the plant grows, the stem is surrounded by leaves whose bases are closely appressed to the stem. WIth age, the lower leaves die but remain attached to the stem for long periods of time. The blades of the leaves eventually decompose, but the leaf bases may still remain attached to the stem for a while, gradually falling off of the stem. In some Yuccas, the older portions of the stem become dry and spongy (they look dead) while the younger upper portions of the stem are nice and firm. The top can be cut off of the lower dried part and placed in soil where it can produce roots and continue to grow.

This question could be better answered by some one actually seeing the condition of the plant. You may want to contact the folks at the New York City Office of Cornell Cooperative Extension to try to find that someone.

 

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