Herb latin name: Yucca angustissima


Family: Agavaceae (Century-plant Family)



Edible parts of Yucca angustissima:

Fruit - the immature fruit is cooked. Baked in an oven. A bitter taste, the bitterness is in the skin. The fruit is about 6cm long and 2.5cm wide. Flowers - raw or cooked. They are delicious raw, or can be dried, crushed and used as a flavouring. Flowering stem - peeled, cooked and used like asparagus. The whitish inner portion is used.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
40 cm
(1 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Desert areas in Arizona, 900 - 2100 metres.

Other uses of Yucca angustissima:

A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making ropes, baskets and mats. The leaves are very fibrous and can be used as paint brushes or as a broom or woven to make mats etc. They are also used in basketry. The roots are rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - 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 20C. 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. Seed is not produced in Britain unless the flowers are hand pollinated. 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.

Cultivation of Yucca angustissima:

Desert areas in Arizona, 900 - 2100 metres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Yucca angustissima:

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.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.