The name yucca applies to as many as 40 species of trees and shrubs found mostly in arid portions of North America. The common names noted above can apply to different species. The Spanish bayonet is Y. aloifolia and Our Lord's candle is Y. whipplei. Other common yuccas include Y. schidigera (Mohave yucca) and Y. brevifolia (Joshua tree), which grows to 60 feet in height and commonly is found at the bases of desert mountains. Yucca plants are characterized by stiff, evergreen, sword-shaped leaves crowded on a stout trunk. There is a dense terminal flowerhead faintly resembling a candle. The flowers are white or greenish. All yucca plants depend for pollination on nocturnal yucca moths. Each variety of moth is adapted to a single species of yucca.
What is it used for?Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses
For centuries, yucca plants have served American Indians for a variety of uses including fiber for rope, sandals and cloth; the roots have been used in soap. The Indians and early Californian settlers used the green pods for food. Indian uses included boiling and baking the fruits, eating the blossoms, chewing the raw leaves and fermenting the fruits to produce a beverage for rituals.
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