The desert is lusty with heat and flowers. After a couple months of daily measurable growth, the sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri) in our neighbor's yard is finally blooming. The fifteen foot tall stalk rises from a rosette of sawtooth edged leaves, luring swarms of honeybees (Apis mellifera) and tiny colletid bees (Hylaeus spp.) that come to gather pollen. I've watched the astonishing growth of sotol stalks for nearly a decade, but did not realize until recently that they are dioecious, meaning that there are botanical equivalents of male and female plants.
The seed and pollen producing catkins look very different side by side. From a distance, you can tell the two types of stalks from one another simply by noticing the presence or absence of insect activity.