Botanical Name: Yucca aloifolia
*Dracaena lenneana Regel
*Sarcoyucca aloifolia (L.) Lindinger
*Yucca aloifolia var. arcuata (Haw.) Trel.
*Yucca aloifolia f. arcuata (Haw.) Voss
*Yucca aloifolia var. conspicua (Haw.) Engelm.
*Yucca aloifolia f. conspicua (Haw.) Engelm.
Common Names: Aloe yucca, Dagger plant, and Spanish bayonet.
Habitat: Yucca aloifolia is native to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States from southern Virginia south to Florida and west to the Texas Gulf Coast, to Mexico along the Yucatán coast, and to Bermuda, and parts of the Caribbean. Normally Yucca aloifolia is grown in USDA zones 8 through 11. Yucca aloifolia is a popular landscape plant in beach areas along the lower East Coast from Virginia to Florida.
Yucca aloifolia has become naturalized in Bahamas, Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, Pakistan, South Africa, Queensland, New South Wales, and Mauritania. It is common in gardens and parks of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain).
It grows in sandy soils, especially on sand dunes along the coast.
Description: Yucca aloifolia is an evergreen Tree. It has has an erect trunk, 3–5 in (7.6–12.7 cm) in diameter, reaching up to 5–20 ft (1.5–6.1 m) tall before it becomes top heavy and topples over. When this occurs, the tip turns upward and keeps on growing. The trunk is armed with sharp pointed straplike leaves with fine-toothed edges, each about 2 ft (0.61 m) long. The young leaves near the growing tip stand erect; older ones are reflexed downward, and the oldest wither and turn brown, hanging around the lower trunk like a Hawaiian skirt. Eventually the tip of the trunk develops a 2 ft (0.61 m) long spike of white, purplish-tinged flowers, each blossom about 4 in (12.7 cm) across. After flowering, the trunk stops growing, but one or more lateral buds are soon formed, and the uppermost becomes a new terminal shoot. Yucca aloifolia also produces new buds, or offshoots, near the base of the trunk, forming the typical thicket often observed in dry sandy and scrub beach areas of the southeastern United States.
Yucca aloifolia flowers are white and showy, sometimes tinged purplish, so that the plant is popular as an ornamental. Fruits are elongated, fleshy, up to 5 cm long. It is widely planted in hot climates and arid environments.
They can succeed in light shade. Plants are hardier when grown on poor sandy soils. Established plants are very drought resistant. A very ornamental plant, it is only hardy in the mildest areas of Britain tolerating temperatures down to about -10°c if in a suitable site. It requires greenhouse protection in most of the country. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. The flowers of most members of this genus can only be pollinated by a certain species of moth. This moth cannot live in Britain and, if fruit and seed is required, hand pollination is necessary. This can be quite easily and successfully done using something like a small paint brush. This species, however, does not require the Yucca moth for pollination and will set fruit without hand pollination. The flowers open at night and are powerfully fragrant at this time. Individual crowns are monocarpic, dying after flowering. However, the crown will usually produce a number of sideshoots before it dies and these will grow on to flower in later years. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Special Features: North American native, Attracts butterflies, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Through Seeds – sow spring in a greenhouse. Pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water may reduce the germination time. It usually germinates within 1 – 12 months if kept at a temperature of 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and consider giving them some winter protection for at least their first winter outdoors – a simple pane of glass is usually sufficient. Root cuttings in late winter or early spring. Lift in April/May and remove small buds from base of stem and rhizomes. Dip in dry wood ashes to stop any bleeding and plant in a sandy soil in pots in a greenhouse until established.
Fruits are edible, eaten – raw or cooked. A thick, succulent mass of bitter-sweet juicy flesh. The fruit is up to 10 cm long and 4cm wide. Flowers – raw or cooked. They are delicious raw, or can be dried, crushed and used as a flavouring. A crisp texture. Flowering stem – peeled and boiled. Used like asparagus.
Yucca aloifolia is used for osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, inflammation of the intestine ( colitis ), high cholesterol, stomach disorders, diabetes, poor circulation, and liver and gallbladder disorders. Some people apply yucca directly to the skin for sores, skin diseases, bleeding, sprains, joint pain, baldness, and dandruff.
The fruit is purgative. The boiled and mashed root, mixed with oil, has been used as a salve in the treatment of various complaints.
A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making ropes, baskets and mats. Narrow, split leaf strips have been used as sewing material for coiled plaques. The leaves have been used in several types of basketry. The leaf splints have been used as brushes to apply colour to pottery. The leaves can be split and used as a temporary string. The roots are rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute. They are crushed and then placed in water to form suds that are used in bathing and shampooing. The juice from the plant has been used as a varnish.
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Massing, Seashore, Specimen. Thrives in any soil but prefers a sandy loam and full exposure to the south.
Known Hazards: The roots contain saponins. Whilst saponins are quite toxic to people, they are poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass straight through. They are also destroyed by prolonged heat, such as slow baking in an oven. Saponins are found in many common foods such as beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.