With its bloated stem and tufts of narrow leaves on skinny stems, this genus is one of the oddest members of Mexican dry forests. Click on a thumbnail for a larger image:
1. 2. 3.
1. An individual of the Ponytail Palm Beaucarnea recurvata growing directly out of a vertical limestone cliff face, seen from below.
2. Beaucarnea gracilis. Note the deeply furrowed bark that would look at home on a pine tree.
3. The tree on the middle right is a B. gracilis. Though they look like Century Plants (Agave), the green, spiky rosettes in the foreground are a member of the genus Hechtia, in the Pineapple Family (Bromeliaceae)! One of the shrubs at the base of the Beaucarnea is a Setchellanthus, a mustard-oil producing plant placed in a family all by itself.
If you are interested in Beaucarnea, a recent article shows that B. gracilis is having a hard time in the wild, since too many people are digging up the small plants to use them as ornamentals: