Dasylirion wheeleri – Common Sotol

Dasylirion wheeleri - Common Sotol, Desert Spoon, Sotol (flowers)

Dasylirion wheeleri - Common Sotol, Desert Spoon, Sotol (plant with seeds)

Dasylirion wheeleri - Common Sotol, Desert Spoon, Sotol

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Dasylirion wheeleri

Common Names: Common Sotol, Desert Spoon, Sotol

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial (long-lived)

Growth Habit: Shrub, Subshrub, Unusual Shrub

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert, Upland. It grows on dry, sunny, rocky slopes.

Flower Color: Dull yellowish to greenish white

Flowering Season: Spring (late), Summer

Height: Leaf rosette to 3 feet (91 cm) tall, flower stalk to 15 feet (4.6 m) tall

Description: The thousands of tiny yellowish or greenish flowers are clustered on a towering flower stalk. The plant does not die after flowering. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. The individual flowers are tiny and have 6 petal-like segments. The flowers are followed by small reddish or brown seed capsules. The leaves are in an attractive basal rosette. The leaves are tough and leathery, linear, grayish-green, 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, and have curved teeth along the margins. The leaf bases are shaped like spoons.

Special Characteristics

Edible – The inner part of the plants and the core of the flower stems are edible and can be used to make the alcoholic beverage "sotol", but this native plant is protected in Arizona and should not be damaged or killed.

Legal StatusProtected Native Plant (Salvage Restricted)


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Subclass: Liliidae
Order: Liliales
Family: Liliaceae – Lily family
Genus: Dasylirion Zucc. – sotol
Species: Dasylirion wheeleri S. Watson – common sotol

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map