In a crime that was described as both “bizarre” and “creative” (showing what a fine line that can be), a Florida man tried to rob a store earlier this month armed with a plant. “The man came in with the branch,” said owner Goutam Sarkar. “I have never seen anything like this.”
One would think this would be more successful than using a plant as a disguise, but it seems to have turned out the other way around.
It turns out this was not just any plant, but rather the feared “Spanish bayonet,” a member of the yucca family that has sharp points on its leaves. That may still not sound fearsome, but one description I found describes the plant as being “armed with” sharp pointed leaves about 2 inches long, and says it is used as a “security plant” because “it can be planted beneath windows and other access points where its fiercely pointed leaves will prevent passage of all interlopers human and otherwise.” (It stops vampires?) “This plant,” the website continued, “can inflict painful puncture wounds even through heavy clothing.” (That won’t stop vampires.)
This assumes that the weapon was yucca aloifolia, not some other member of the yucca family—more than one of them are commonly called “Spanish bayonet” or “Spanish dagger,” though the others do not appear to be as fearsome. It is hard to identify the exact species used from the surveillance video, which shows the robber “wildly waving” the frond at the store clerk, and you know I don’t like to speculate. Whether or not the plant was especially dangerous, however, it wasn’t dangerous enough. According to the report, the robber was “chased out of the store by a man armed with a bar stool.”
This, of course, is a drama we see played out in history over and over again, from the scene early in 2001: A Space Odyssey in which one ape has a bone and the other does not, to modern times in which one man arms himself with a plant but another shows up with furniture, although ironically, both are descended from the winning ape. Conclusion: evolution works, but very, very slowly.