Yucca and agave relatives with tough, narrow, grassy leaves, typically carried atop a thick trunk. Mature plants bear flowers; the blossoms are tiny, but they're usually borne on tall stalks that make for a good show. Good for dry areas; tolerate poor, alkaline soil. Not suited to areas with high rainfall and high humidity.
N. erumpens. BEAR GRASS. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Native to Mexico and western Texas. Sharp-edged, thick leaves to 3 ft. long form a mound 34 ft. tall, 6 ft. wide. Showy spikes of creamy white flowers flushed with rose-pink rise several feet above the foliage, spring into summer.
N. lindheimeriana. DEVIL'S SHOESTRING. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Native to Texas. Wiry, narrow, 2- to 3-ft.-long leaves; foliage mounds reach 6 ft. across. Wands of white flowers rise to 34 ft. in late spring.
N. longifolia. MEXICAN GRASS TREE. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Native to central Mexico. In youth, forms a fountain (to about 6 ft. wide) of grasslike, 3-ft.-long, 1-in.-wide leaves. In time, the foliage fountain is carried atop a 6- to 10-ft. trunk, sometimes with a few branches. White flowers come in late spring, on stalks up to 6 ft. tall.
N. nelsonii. NELSON'S BLUE BEAR GRASS TREE. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Slow-growing plant native to the deserts of northern Mexico. Forms a foliage rosette 35 ft. tall and twice as wide; narrow (1- to 112-in.-wide), finely tooth-edged leaves are gray-green and flexible when young, silvery blue-gray and stiff when mature. In time, foliage is carried atop a 5- to 12-ft. trunk. Dead leaves hang onto the trunk; remove them for a neater look. Blooms in summer, bearing creamy blossoms on a 7- to 10-ft. spike. Dramatic and sculptural.
N. texana. SACAHUISTA, BASKET GRASS. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. Native to Texas, the Southwest, and Mexico. Very grasslike foliage forms a mound 1122 ft. tall and twice as wide. Stalks of creamy white blossoms are 1112 ft. tall; they don't rise above the leaves. Blooms from spring into summer. Especially hardy.