In All Things of Nature

The Spanish Bayonet agave is a wicked sounding plant, and no doubt if you bump into it or step upon a fallen spike, it gives a wicked stab, too. But just as you can’t accurately judge a person by his or her name, or a new food by its appearance, you cannot know a plant by its name, nor a casual glance.

It usually takes time to get to know a plant, or a person for that matter.


Sotolillo © 2012 Bo Mackison

When I first saw the Spanish Bayonet agave, it was a mass of red tinged, spiky green stabbing sticks. Those who knew the desert well called that bundle of danger an agave plant, or according to some botanists, a very close relative of the agave. I thought perhaps they were being generous.

Spanish Bayonet in Bloom

Spanish Bayonet in Bloom © 2012 Bo Mackison

In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous. ~ Aristotle

Then one day when I was out and about in the Sonoran desert, I saw the Spanish bayonet, but it was no longer simply a spiky plant. Its center had opened, the heart of the plant, and bursting forth was a mass of purple florets. This spiky plant, this plant which has red-tinged tips and a vague look of battle, had always had this beauty in its heart.

It was unknown to me, a newcomer to the desert. But what a wonderful gift for me – a surprise bouquet!

Spanish Bayonet

Flower Spike © 2012 Bo Mackison

One looks, looks long, and the world comes in. ~ Joseph Campbell

The sotolillo – the name I have since learned is the Mexican name of the plant, and one that I quite prefer – offered even more delight at my next visit, a week or so later. The bouquet in the middle of the spikes had stretched – like, I imagine, Jack’s beanstalk grew – and it   stretched towards the sky, a full ten feet high. Lovely!

There is one last photograph of the sotolillo blossom that I will save for Sunday’s post. It is a beauty, perfect for Part II.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC, living and photographing in southern Arizona. She remains amazed and grateful for the opportunity to see the diversity and beauty of the Sonoran Desert.

About Bo Mackison

I’m a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place – a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I’d love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It’s my gift to you.


  1. Gandalf says:

    The flower in the middle gives the appearance of fish scales in the way it lays over the flower benith it. I would never have expected the look shown in your Part II. Very interesting.

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