Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten, Portrait

Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten

My White Sands

Struggle for Existence

Soaptree Yucca at Sunset

Yuccas are widely scattered throughout the marginal dunes. They survive by extending their stems upward, to keep their leaves above the sands, and anchoring themselves in place.. 

Some yuccas have stem-root systems that extend down 40 feet.


In this picture,the sun's last rays catch this yucca and the distant Sacramento Mountains, which rim the White Sands on the east.

Rio Grande Cottonwood

A Rio Grand cottonwood struggles for existence in this arid, gypsum sand habitat.

The Rio Grande cottonwood is  the only tree that grows today in White Sands.

Like a Boating Dock at Low Tide

Yuccas grow and survive by extending their stems as much as 12 inches a year in order to keep their leaves above the swelling dune.

In time, when the dune begins to move past the yucca, and the sand recedes from beneath its top, its root-stem and leaves are left increasingly higher above the sand, like a boat dock when the tide goes out.

At length, it leans, and then begins to topple over.