Dasylirion wheeleri

Sotol - Dasylirion wheeleri
East of Hillsboro, NM
June 8, 2014

Sotol (a.k.a. Desert Spoon) - Dasylirion wheeleri - had come into bloom in June 2014.  Their tall slender stalks of flowers dot the hillsides adding, not only elegance, but a palette of color as they change from light green to the golden color pictured above.  Humans have used Sotol for at least 9,000 years.  It was used to make mats and baskets, used as hunting darts, distilled for the spirits (pun intended), and cooked for food.  

The gender of a Sotol can be determined by looking at the flower, white for male and pink for female (honest).  The leaves of the Sotol are narrow and up to a meter long.  The “thorns” on the leaves point away from the plant rather than back toward it, which is the case on Agave parryi and Agave palmeri leaves.

The range of the Sotol within the United States is shown on the BONAP map to the right.  The light green color indicates that the species is native and common in the county indicated.  In Mexico, it is found in Chihuahua and Sonora.

The alcoholic drink, Sotol, is made from the fermented plant matter of this species.  The core of the plant is baked for food and the Tarahumara and Pima Bajo use the leaves in the weaving of baskets.

The dried flower stalk of the Sotol is purported to be the best material for a fire plow in the American Southwest.  A fire plow is used to create a fire from rubbing two sticks together.



July 14, 2014 - East of Hillsboro
Photo immediately above.



© Robert Barnes 2018