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Yucca_elata - Engelm.

Common Name Soap Tree, Soaptree yucca, Soapweed, Soapweed Yucca
Family Agavaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards The roots contain saponins[222]. 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[K]. 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[K].
Habitats Mesas, desert washes, plains and desert grasslands, and in deserts, normally between 500 - 2000 metres[229].
Range Southern N. America - Texas. Arizona, northern Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Yucca_elata Soap Tree, Soaptree yucca, Soapweed, Soapweed Yucca


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Yucca_elata Soap Tree, Soaptree yucca, Soapweed, Soapweed Yucca
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Summary

Bloom Color: Green, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early spring, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer, Mid spring. Form: Upright or erect.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Yucca_elata is an evergreen Shrub growing to 2 m (6ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Hand.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Synonyms

Yucca angustifolia var. elata Engelm.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[177, 181, 183]. The fruit is a dry capsule up to 5cm long and 36mm wide[229]. Seedpods[181]. We are not sure how this differs from the fruit but one report mentions edible fruit as well as an edible seedpod. Flowers - raw or cooked[177, 181, 257]. Delicious raw, they can also be dried, crushed and used as a flavouring[164]. The flowers are boiled and eaten as a vegetable[257]. Used in preserves[183]. Flowering stem - cooked and used like asparagus[164]. The stems were slow baked for several hours, then dried and broken into pieces to store. They would be soaked in water to soften them before being eaten[257].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



None known

Other Uses

The leaves, or a fibre obtained from them, is used for making ropes and mats[82, 169, 181, 257]. The leaves can be woven into shallow or tray baskets[257]. The leaf has also been used as a binding element in coarse coiled basketry[257]. The roots have a red core and have been used to ornament baskets[257]. The roots are rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute for washing the hair, body, clothes etc[82, 181, 257]. Also used as a foaming agent in beer[183]. A slick soap-like fluid in the trunk has been used as a substitute for soap[229]. Wood - light, soft and spongy[82].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Specimen. Thrives in any soil but prefers a sandy loam and full exposure to the south[11, 200]. Plants are hardier when grown on poor sandy soils[200]. Established plants develop a very deep, branching root system and are very drought resistant[82, 200]. Plants are not very hardy in Britain, requiring greenhouse protection according to some reports[1, 200] whilst another report says that they are hardy to about -30°c[164]. A slow-growing and fairly long-lived plant, some specimens may be 300 years old[229]. In the plants native environment, its flowers can only be pollinated by a certain species of moth. This moth cannot live in Britain 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. Individual crowns are monocarpic, dying after flowering[233]. However, the crown will usually produce a number of sideshoots before it dies and these will grow on to flower in later years[233]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. Special Features:North American native, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.

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Propagation

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[K]. 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[78]. 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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Yucca elataSoap Tree, Soaptree yucca, Soapweed, Soapweed Yucca20

 

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Expert comment

Author

Engelm.

Botanical References

82200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

   Sun Feb 3 2008

the other species of yucca are listed as being helpful in cases of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis ann reduce inflammation,,, would this also be true of this variety as well i would think

Jan   Thu Oct 11 2007

Lots of great information - can I cut a shoot from the main stem and propogate that. If so where and what time of year should I do this

David English   Sat Mar 1 2008

How, where, can a person get permission to harvest yucca shoots for walking sticks?

David Holmes   Tue Jun 10 2008

I have only seen references to cream coloured flowers on Yuccas but I have one with a red flower, is this normal?

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