Herb: Mojave Yucca


Latin name: Yucca schidigera


Family: Agavaceae (Century-plant Family)



Edible parts of Mojave Yucca:

Young flowering stems - chopped and cooked like asparagus or baked like a sweet potato. Fruit - raw or cooked. Baked then dried and ground into a powder then used in soups etc or made into a drink. The fruit can also be used to make jellies. Flowers - raw or cooked. They are delicious raw, and can also be dried, crushed and used as a flavouring and can also be used in jellies.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Tree

Height:
4.5 m
(15 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Found in desert habitats in chaparral and creosote bush scrub from sea level to elevations of 2500 metres.

Other uses of Mojave Yucca:

The leaves, or a fibre obtained from them, has been used for making ropes, baskets and mats. The strong fibres have been used to make shoes and sandals. The leaves have been used to make brushes for body painting and for painting pots etc. 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 Mojave Yucca:

Found in desert habitats in chaparral and creosote bush scrub from sea level to elevations of 2500 metres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Yucca schidigera:

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.