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Smooth Sotol, Desert Candle, Smooth-leaf Sotol
Dasylirion leiophyllum


Smooth sotol is the most common species of sotol in the Trans-Pecos, also found north to New Mexico and south to Mexico. Its long slender leaves arch gracefully from a short central trunk, making a symmetrical, rounded form. The leaves are green and glossy with rust-colored, backward-curved teeth on the margins, and are spoon-like at the base, giving the Sotol genus the common name of "desert spoon". Extremely tolerant of drought, heat, cold, and soil type, smooth sotol must have well-drained soil and full sun to grow best, although it can tolerate light shade. From May to August it sends up a dramatic flowering stalk that can be as tall as 12 feet. It is very effective as an accent in landscapes, and even can be massed as a large-scale groundcover. Because of its wicked spines, it must be planted away from pedestrian areas unless it's used for security plantings.

Plant Habit or Use: medium shrub

Exposure: sun

Flower Color: dull white, greenish - cream

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: 3-winged shell

Height: 4 to 6 feet / to 12 feet with flower

Width: 4 to 6 feet

Plant Character: evergreen

Heat Tolerance: very high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: adaptable

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7

Additional Comments: An extremely useful plant to man, sotol has been used to make temporary structures, corrals, roofs, baskets, mats, ropes, liquor ("sotol"), cattle feed during drought, and food for humans.

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