Yucca filamentosa

Superb spiking of yukka filamentosa.
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Botanical Name : Yucca filamentosa

Family: Asparagaceae

Subfamily: Agavoideae

Genus: Yucca

Species: Y. filamentosa

Kingdom: Plantae

clade: Angiosperms

clade: Monocots

Order: Asparagales

Common Names : Adam’s needle, bear grass, weak-leaf yucca

Habitat : Yucca filamentosa is native to the southeastern United States, as far west as Louisiana and as far north as Virginia. However, it is widely cultivated and can be found naturalized outside its native range.

Description:

Usually trunkless, Yucca filamentosa is a multisuckering plant with heads of 30 inch (75 cm) long, filamentous, blue green strappy leaves. The plant is fully hardy. Yucca filamentosa is readily identified from other Yucca species by white threads (filaments) on the leaf margins (as seen in the image).

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Flower stems up to 10 ft (3 m) tall bear masses of pendulous cream flowers in early summer.

Leaf: Evergreen, stiff and sword-like to slightly flexible and strap-like, up to 2 1/2 feet long and 1 to 3 inches wide, parallel veins, the leaf margins of younger leaves bearing fibrous white strands or filaments.

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Flower: Very attractive, creamy white, bell-shaped, 6-petaled, approximately 2 1/2 inch-wide, borne on a 3-6 foot tall upright woody inflorescence. Flowers appearing once between June and August.

Fruit: Capsules borne upright on the woody inflorescence, approximately 2 inches long, initially green and drying to

Form: Dense, mounded clumps of leaves that reach 4 feet in height, but with upright inflorescences much taller.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-10

Y. filamentosa is closely related to Yucca flaccida and it is possible they should in fact be classified as a single species.

Propagation: By seed, root cuttings and offshoots. When one digs up a yucca to transplant, about a year later one may  often find the site ringed with baby yuccas growing from pieces of root left behind!

Medicinal Uses:

Yucca filamentosa is used for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, urethritis and prostates.  At one time it was considered an important source of phytosterols and used in the manufacturing of steroidal hormones.  Y glauca has been shown to have some activity against one strain of melanoma.  The amino acids in  Yucca filamentosa leaves have been shown to inhibit viruses, namely herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2, and cytomegalovirus.  One possible biochemical mechanism responsible for  Yucca filamentosa’s anti-inflammatory benefits lies in the plant’s steroidal saponins interacting with steroid receptors in the body, altering prostaglandin synthesis. Another possibility is that these chemicals may induce the production of anti-inflammatory steroidal compounds in the human body.

Other Uses:

Yucca filamentosa sometimes used as fish toxins or fish stupifying plants that have historically been used by many hunter gatherer cultures to stun fish, so that the fish become easy to collect by hand. Some of these toxins paralyse fish, others work by reducing oxygen content in water. The process of documenting many fish toxins and their use is ongoing, with interest in potential uses from medicine, agriculture, and industry.

Yucca filamentosas are useful garden perennials because they bloom at night (nyctinasty). The creamy-white flowers fill with sap and lift petals to the darkening sky then release a sweet odor (which reminds some viewers as smelling of a toilet soap) that attracts the very small pollinator, the yucca moth.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:

http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus2/factsheet.cfm?ID=822

http://www.floridata.com/ref/y/yucc_fil.cfm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_filamentosa

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