There is still considerable disagreement over the correct name for this species. We have followed the treatment in the 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families', but other authorities are using Yucca guatemalensis or Yucca elephantipes[
Dracaena lennei Baker
Dracaena yuccoides Baker
Sarcoyucca elephantipes (Regel ex Trel.) Linding.
Yucca eleana W.Watson
Yucca elephantipes Regel ex Trel.
Yucca ghiesbreghtii Baker
Yucca guatemalensis Baker
Yucca lenneana Baker
Yucca mazelii W.Watson
Yucca mooreana Baker
Yucca roezlii Baker
A rather large specimen in the Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Photograph by: JoJan
Yucca gigantea is an almost unbranched, evergreen tree-like plant that usually grows 3 - 4 metres tall, though it sometimes reaches a height of up to 10 metres[
]. The stem is topped by a thick, columnar crown with stiff, hard, dagger-like leaves up to 1 metre long[
The flowers are gathered from the wild for local consumption. They are sometimes sold in local markets[
]. The plant is often cultivated through much of its range as an ornamental. Although the large panicles are a handsome sight when the flowers are open, it is but rarely that they are seen well developed, for almost all the panicles are cut when the flowers begin to open, and the succulent flowers are used for food.
Central America - Panama to southern Mexico.
Common in cultivation, or in hedges and thickets, throughout the lowlands and ascending commonly in the mountains to middle elevations; it is often seen at up to 2,700 metres or perhaps even higher[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
A plant of the drier tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,700 metres, it can be grown in much wetter areas if the soil is very well-drained[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 32°c, but can tolerate 6 - 38°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 1,600mm, but tolerates 700 - 4,000mm[
Requires a sunny position that is sheltered from cold, drying winds[
]. Prefers a well-drained, rich, loamy soil, but is tolerant of poor sandy soils[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, tolerating 4.5 - 7.3[
The plant can be harvested for its flower buds 2 - 3 years after planting out cuttings[
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. The flowers open at night[
] and are powerfully fragrant at this time[
The flower buds are eaten in soups[
]. They have a slightly bitter but quite agreeable flavour, and constitute a palatable vegetable[
]. Usually they are dipped in egg and fried, or mixed with meat stews, and sometimes they are eaten raw in combination with other raw salad vegetables[
]. The flowers are rich in vitamin C[
The tender leaf bases can be eaten[
The tree is an ornamental one and, partly for that reason, is often planted about houses, especially for tall hedges[
In some regions, it is planted thickly on steep high roadside banks to prevent erosion[
]. It is also used to stabilize terracing in coffee plantations[
A fibre obtained from the leaves is used to make twine, cloth and baskets[
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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