Herb: Adam's Needle
Latin name: Yucca smalliana
Synonyms: Yucca filamentosa
Family: Agavaceae (Century-plant Family)
Edible parts of Adam's Needle:Fruit - raw or cooked. Flowers - raw or cooked. They are delicious raw, and can also be dried, crushed and used as a flavouring. Flowering stem - cooked and used like asparagus.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Sands, old fields and bluffs.
Other uses of Adam's Needle:A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making ropes, baskets and mats. 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 20°C. 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 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 Adam's Needle:Sands, old fields and bluffs.
Medicinal use of the herb:None known
Known hazards of Yucca smalliana: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.