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Botanical Name :Yucca spp
There are different species of Yucca everywhere in the Southwest. These plants are easy to identify.
•They have long and narrow leaves that are radiate from the base of the plant and they also have very sharp needle ends
•Right in the center of the Yucca plant there is usually a flower stalk (3-5ft. long) that has lily-like flowers and fruit pods
•The fruit pods are 2-3 inches in length and and 1-2 inches in width.Inside these fruits are seeds which are thin, black, and coarse.
•The roots have a woody thick bark covering the outer layer and the core of the root is spongy.
•Some Yucca species grow 10 to 13 ft. tall. They grow in dry and sandy deserts, mesas, and Plains.
Yuccas are widely grown as architectural plants providing a dramatic accent to landscape design. They tolerate a range of conditions, but are best grown in full sun in subtropical or mild temperate areas. In gardening centres and horticultural catalogues they are usually grouped with other architectural plants such as cordylines and phormiums.
Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are protected by law in some states. A permit is needed for wild collection. As a landscape plant, they can be killed by excessive water during their summer dormant phase, so are avoided by landscape contractors.
Several species of yucca can be grown outdoors in mild temperate climates where they are protected from frost. These include:
Steroidal saponin is a highly active compound found in yucca plants. Saponins are precursors to cortisone and provide relief for symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism pain (Dr. Larry Milam, H. MD; 1999). Rich in Vitamin A, B-complex, and Vitamin C, yucca is also a good source of copper, calcium, manganese, potassium, and fiber. (Medicinal uses of herbs,1999).
Yucca is a medicinal plant. It was used widely in Native folk medicine for it’s anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory effects which support Yucca’s promise in the treatment of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The plant contains several physiologically active phytochemicals. It is a rich source of steroidal saponins, and is used commercially as a saponin source. The steroidal saponins in yucca are used as starter substances in the production of synthetic steroid drugs. These phytosterols work with the natural immune functions of the body, and assist the body in using and producing these its steroid related hormones.1 Clinical trials conducted on constituents isolated from Yucca schidigera bark found evidence that the anti-inflammatory properties of these saponins have anti-tumor properties that may be important in further cancer research
It is also good for blood purifying and cleaning of the kidneys and liver. (1st herbshop, 1999). Many herbalists and healers used the yucca plant by boiling the roots for about half an hour and drinking it as tea.
Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Many species also bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, flowering stems, and more rarely roots. References to yucca root as food often stem from confusion with the similarly pronounced, but botanically unrelated, yuca, also called cassava (Manihot esculenta). Roots of soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) are high in saponins and are used as a shampoo in Native American rituals. Dried yucca leaves and trunk fibers have a low ignition temperature, making the plant desirable for use in starting fires via friction. In rural Appalachian areas, species such as Yucca filamentosa are referred to as “meat hangers”. The tough, fibrous leaves with their sharp-spined tips were used to puncture meat and knotted to form a loop with which to hang meat for salt curing or in smoke houses.
Native tribes use this plant for arts & crafts, food, dye to color fibers and yarn to make rugs also to make a black dye color for art in Indian basketry designs.They use the yucca in a game called the Shoe Game (Moccasin Game) by using the yucca sticks (leaves) to keep the score, whoever ends up with all of the sticks (102 yucca leaves) wins the game! Navajos also use the yucca leaves as a whipping belt which are used by the sacred clowns in various ceremonies like the Night Chant Ceremony. Some Navajos also use this to make yucca fruit rolls that are part of the Puberty Ceremony (a ceremony when a girl becomes a woman).
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.