Soaptree Yucca, White Sands

Gillian Little


Soaptree Yucca, White Sands - photograph by Gillian Little

White Sands is the world’s largest gypsum dune field covering an area of 275 square miles of the Tularosa Valley in the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert.  The gypsum, which has its ultimate source in rocks of the nearby San Andres and Sacramento Mountains, is dissolved and carried through groundwater flow to an ancient lakebed, lake Lucero.


The Soaptree Yucca is utilized for food, fiber, and soap by Native Americans.  It can grow up to a foot per year in order to remain above the surface of a rising dune.  It is one of the only things that will grow in the gypsum dunes.

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