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Dasylirion wheeleri (Common sotol)
Braden, Al

Dasylirion wheeleri

Dasylirion wheeleri S. Watson

Common Sotol, Sotol, Desert Spoon, Desert Candle

Liliaceae (Lily Family)


USDA Symbol: DAWH2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Thousands of tiny greenish-white flowers in a long, narrow cluster that grows from a dense bunch of many slender, spiny leaves.

Desert Spoon plants may be treated in the same manner as Agaves to produce food and liquor (sotol). The tough leaves are woven into mats and baskets and used for thatching. The broad, spoon-like base is often used in dried floral arrangements. The smaller Smooth-leaved Sotol (D. leiophyllum), which grows on limestone in southern New Mexico, western Texas, and northern Mexico, has teeth that curve toward the leaf base.


From the Image Gallery

24 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Leaves up to about 3 feet long. Flower stalk up to about 15 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul


Native Distribution: W. Texas to s. Arizona.
Native Habitat: Rocky desert slopes.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Conditions Comments: Dasylirion wheeleri is a drought tolerant desert plant with an attractive arching rosette of blue-green leaves with sharp teeth along the leaf margins. Placement in the garden should be carefully considered so as not to catch unwary passers-by with thorns. The flower spikes rise dramatically 10 feet above the leaf rosette and attract hummingbirds. Plants have a tendency to rot in heavy soils. To prevent this, provide excellent drainage and use mineral mulches such as crushed limestone or granite instead of a bark mulch.


Use Ornamental: Wheeler sotol grown as an ornamental and the broad spoonlike leafbase is often used in dried floral arrangements.
Use Wildlife: The sugary trunks and leaf bases of Wheeler sotol have been used to feed cattle during droughts.
Use Food: Indians and Mexicans prepared an alcoholic drink known as sotol by roasting the flower head in a pit for 24 hours and then distilling the juice.
Use Other: The leaves are used to make mats, baskets, ropes, thatch, and paper.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Deer Resistant: High

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Dasylirion wheeleri in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Dasylirion wheeleri in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Dasylirion wheeleri


Record Modified: 2017-05-10
Research By: BJG, GDB

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