Yucca aloifolia L.


Liliaceae (Lily Family)




Spanish Bayonet 

                                                July Photo


Plant Characteristics: Trunk 2-3 ft. and the plant often much taller and sometimes 25 ft., simple or branched, the main trunk often inclining; lvs. 1 1/2-2 1/2 ft. long, to 2 1/2 in. wide, sharply rough-edged, stiff and bayonet-like, very sharp-pointed; fls. many, hanging, white often purple-tipped, 3-4 in. across at full anthesis; ovary stipitate; fr. fleshy, coreless,  black-purple, 3-4 in. long.


Habitat:  Common in gardens and division lines.  NC south and along the Gulf to La.; also W. Indies and Mex., probably naturalized.  Escape from cultivation in the study area.  Summer bloomer.


Name:  Yuc-ca, modification of an aboriginal name, applied to another plant. ( Bailey) 240).   Aloifolia, aloe-leaved.  (Bailey 10).


General:  Occasional in the study area.  The photographed specimen was found on the path between 23rd St. and Mariners Dr. at an elev. of 4 or 5 ft. above the high tide line.  There is a large specimen near the end of Back Bay Dr. just before the hill where it terminates into Eastbluff Dr. (my comments).      The Indians to some extent used all parts of the southern yuccas.  The tough, fibrous leaves yielded an important cordage for robes, nets, hats, shoes mattresses and sometimes paint brushes were made by fringing them.  The leaves were pounded in water to release the fibers.  During World War I, yucca fiber from Texas and NM. was used to make eighty million pounds of bagging and burlap.  (Clarke 135).       Yucca (Spanish Bayonet) was very important as a food and as a fiber.  It is still found on hillsides, in sandy canyons, and on desert slopes.  The fruit with big, black seeds was picked when green.  Roasted in hot coals, it had a taste somewhat like a baked green apple.  When ripe, the fruit was sweet and juicy.  The stem of the yucca was roasted in pits with hot coals.  Fibers of yucca had many uses; nets, baskets, mats, sandals, straps, cradles, rough-woven cloth and hairbrushes.  (Bauer 55).       The plant described above as Spanish Bayonet is a different species from Y. aloifolia.  (my comment).      Arthritis being such an idiosyncratic disorder, no single treatment will help more than a percentage of people, but if Yucca sp. tea is effective, it can relieve pain for several days afterwards.  (Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West 135).      The roots are poisonous.  (James 89).      The family Agavaceae is now included within Liliaceae.  (Hickman, Ed. 1170).         Comparison of the DNA sequences for various genes, usually those found in the chloroplast of the plant cell has led biologists to propose many changes in the plant families as they are now known.  It is proposed to move the genus Agave from Liliaceae back to Agavaceae.  (Kelch, Dean G. “Consider the Lilies” FREMONTIA, A Journal of the California Native Plant Society Vol. 30 No. 2 April 2002 pp. 23-29).


Text Ref:  Bailey 241.

Photo Ref:  Aug 1 86 # 16,21.

Identity: by R. De Ruff.

First Found: August 1986.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 344.

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 5/28/04.


                                                  May Photo                                                                                            August Photo