This species is closely related to Yucca gloriosa[
Dracaena lenneana Regel
Sarcoyucca aloifolia (L.) Linding.
Yucca arcuata Haw.
Yucca atkinsii Baker
Yucca conspicua Haw.
Yucca crenulata Haw.
Yucca draconis L.
Yucca haruckeriana Crantz
Yucca parmentieri Carrière
Yucca purpurea Baker
Yucca quadricolor Baker
Yucca serrulata Haw.
Yucca tenuifolia Haw.
Yucca tricolor Baker
Common Name: Spanish Bayonet
Yucca aloifolia is an erect, succulent, evergreen tree growing up to 8 metres tall[
]. The plant forms 1 - 3 main stems, each topped by a rosette of spear-shaped leaves 12 - 40cm long and 25 - 60mm wide. The stem can be free of branches, but is sometimes sparsely to densely branched[
The plant has a wide range of traditional uses, providing food, medicines and a range of commodities. It is harvested from the wild for local use. A very ornamental plant, it is often grown in gardens[
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[
Caribbean - Cuba to Dominican Republic; Southern N. America - Mexico, Texas to Florida, north to N. Carolina.
Sand dunes of the coast, occasionally up to 60 km inland, in pine forests[
]. Also found on the margins of brackish marshes[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
A plant of the warm temperate to tropical zones, usually found at low elevations. It tolerates occasional temperatures down to about -10°c if in a suitable site[
Thrives in any soil but prefers a sandy loam and full exposure to the sun[
]. Plants can succeed in light shade[
]. Plants are hardier when grown on poor sandy soils[
]. Established plants are very drought resistant[
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 does not live outside of the plants native range 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 side shoots before it dies and these will grow on to flower in later years[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Several named forms have been developed for their ornamental value[
Fruit - 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[
]. Eaten as a vegetable[
]. 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.
The fruit is purgative[
The boiled and mashed root, mixed with oil, has been used as a salve in the treatment of various complaints[
The plant is used in the treatment of earache[
Ethanolic extracts from the leaves contain saponins and possess anti-inflammatory activity[
A hard 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[
Seed - pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water may reduce the germination time. Sow in containers in a lightly shaded position. The seed 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 until large enough to plant out.
Root cuttings. Lift the plant and remove small buds from the base of the stem and rhizomes. Dip in dry wood ashes to stop any bleeding and plant in a sandy soil in pots until established[
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