Herb: Spoonleaf Yucca


Latin name: Yucca filamentosa


Synonyms: Yucca concava


Family: Agavaceae (Century-plant Family)



Medicinal use of Spoonleaf Yucca:

A poultice made from the roots is used in the treatment of sores, skin diseases and sprains.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
120 cm
(4 feet)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Sand dunes, waste ground and pine forests along the coastal plain.

Edible parts of Spoonleaf Yucca:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Large and fleshy. The fruit is often dried for winter use. Flowers - raw or dried, crushed and used as a flavouring. A tasty addition to the salad bowl. We have found the flowers to be fairly bitter. Flowering stem - cooked and used like asparagus.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making ropes, cloth, baskets and mats. The fibre can also be used for making paper The leaves are harvested in summer, they are scraped to remove the outer skin and are then soaked in water for 24 hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then beaten in a ball mill for 4 hours. They make a cream paper. The leaves are used as paint brushes. The roots are rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute for washing the hair, body and clothing.

Propagation of Spoonleaf Yucca:

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. Division of suckers in late spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the following spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Sand dunes, waste ground and pine forests along the coastal plain.

Known hazards of Yucca filamentosa:

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.