Yucca filamentosa in New Zealand
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Yucca

See text.


Clistoyucca (Engelm.) Trel.
Samuela Trel.
Sarcoyucca (Engelm.) Linding.[1]

Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae.[2] Its 40-50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry (arid) parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Early reports of the species were confused with the cassava (Manihot esculenta).[3] Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the Carib word for the latter, yuca (spelt with a single "c").[4] It is also colloquially known in the midwest United States as "Ghosts in the graveyard", as it is commonly found growing in rural graveyards and when in bloom the flowers appear as an apparition floating.



Distribution of the capsular fruited species in southwest, midwest USA, Mexico's Baja California and Canada. Overview

The natural distribution range of the genus Yucca (49 species and 24 subspecies) covers a vast area of North and Central America. From Baja California in the west, northwards into the southwestern United States, through the drier central states as far north as Alberta in Canada (Yucca glauca ssp. albertana), and moving east along the Gulf of Mexico, and then north again, through the Atlantic coastal and inland neighbouring states. To the south, the genus is represented throughout Mexico and extends into Guatemala (Yucca guatemalensis). Yuccas have adapted to an equally vast range of climatic and ecological conditions. They are to be found in rocky deserts and badlands, in prairies and grassland, in mountainous regions, in light woodland, in coastal sands (Yucca filamentosa), and even in subtropical and semi-temperate zones, although these are generally arid to semi-arid.


Yuccas have a very specialized, mutualistic pollination system, being pollinated by yucca moths (family Prodoxidae); the insect purposefully transfers the pollen from the stamens of one plant to the stigma of another, and at the same time lays an egg in the flower; the moth larva then feeds on some of the developing seeds, always leaving enough seed to perpetuate the species. Yucca species are the host plants for the caterpillars of the Yucca Giant-Skipper (Megathymus yuccae),[5] Ursine Giant-Skipper (Megathymus ursus),[6] and Strecker's Giant-Skipper (Megathymus streckeri).[7]


Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Many species of yucca also bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, flowering stems,[8] and more rarely roots. References to yucca root as food often stem from confusion with the similarly spelled but botanically unrelated yuca, also called cassava (Manihot esculenta). Roots of soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) are high in saponins and are used as a shampoo in Native American rituals. Dried yucca leaves and trunk fibers have a low ignition temperature, making the plant desirable for use in starting fires via friction.[9] In rural Appalachian areas, species such as Yucca filamentosa are referred to as "meat hangers". The tough fibrous leaves with their sharp spined tips were used to puncture meat and knotted to form a loop with which to hang meat for salt curing or in smoking houses.


Yuccas are widely planted in the western US as a landscape plant. Most species are generally heat and cold tolerant, requiring little care and low water. They offer a dramatic accent to a landscape design.

Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are protected by law in some states. A permit is needed for wild collection. As a landscape plant, they can be killed by excessive water during their summer dormant phase. For these two reasons they are avoided by landscape contractors.


The "yucca flower" is the state flower of New Mexico. No species name is given in the citation.


Yucca aloifolia Aloe yucca, Spanish Bayonet
Yucca angustissima Narrowleaf yucca, Spanish Bayonet
Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Park.jpg Yucca brevifolia flower.jpg Yucca brevifolia Joshua tree
Yucca baccata whole.jpg Yucca baccata close.jpg Yucca baccata Banana yucca, datil
Yucca constricta Buckley's yucca
Yucca decipiens.jpg Yucca decipiens 2.jpg Yucca decipiens Palma China
Yucca elata blooming.jpg Yucca elata flowers.jpg Yucca elata Soaptree yucca
Yukka filamentosa.jpg Yucca filamentosa1.jpg Yucca filamentosa Spoonleaf yucca, Filament yucca, or Adam's Needle
Yucca filifera Monaco.jpg Yucca filifera Palma Chuna yucca
Yucca flaccida.jpg Yucca flaccida Flaccid leaf yucca
Yucca glauca soapweed MN 2007.JPG Yucca glauca Sinijukka VII08 H6193.jpg Yucca glauca Great Plains yucca
Yucca gloriosa Moundlily yucca, Adam's needle, Spanish Dagger
Yucca grandiflora Sahuiliqui yucca
Barcelona 354.JPG Yucca guatemalensis Spineless yucca
Yucca harrimaniae Harriman's yucca
Yucca intermedia Intermediate Yucca
Yucca jaliscensis Izote
Yucca kanabensis Kanab yucca
Yucca lacandonica Tropical yucca
Yucca madrensis Soco yucca
Yucca nana Dwarf yucca
Yucca pallida.jpg Yucca pallida Pale yucca
Yucca periculosa Izote
Yucca recurvifolia Curve-leaf yucca
Yucca rigida Blue yucca
Yucca rostrata.jpg Yucca rostrata Beaked yucca, Big Bend yucca
Yucca rupicola.jpg Yucca rupicola Texas yucca, or Twist-leaf yucca
Yucca schidigera blooming.jpg Yucca schidigera Mojave yucca
Yucca schottii Hoary yucca or Mountain yucca
Yucca standleyi
Yucca brooklyn.jpg Yucca thompsoniana Thompson's Yucca
Yucca thornberi
Yucca torreyi Torrey yucca
Yucca treculiana Texas bayonette, Trecul's yucca
Yucca valida Datilillo
Yucca yucatana Yucatan yucca

A number of other species previously classified in Yucca are now classified in the genera Dasylirion, Furcraea, Hesperaloe, Hesperoyucca and Nolina.

Taxonomic arrangement

  • Section Yucca formerly Sarcocarpa Engelm.
    • Series Faxonianae Hochstätter
      • Yucca carnerosana (Trel.) McKelvey
      • Yucca faxoniana (Trel.) Sarg.
    • Series Baccatae Hochstätter
      • Yucca baccata Torr.
        • Yucca baccata Torr. ssp. baccata
        • Yucca baccata Torr. ssp. vespertina (McKelvey) Hochstätter
        • Yucca baccata Torr. ssp. thornberi (McKelvey) Hochstätter
      • Yucca confinis McKelvey
      • Yucca endlichiana Trel.
      • Yucca arizonica McKelvey
    • Series Treculianae Hochstätter
      • Yucca grandiflora Gentry
      • Yucca declinata Laferr.
      • Yucca treculiana Carriere
      • Yucca torreyi Shafer
      • Yucca schidgera Roezl ex Ortgies
      • Yucca schotti Engelm.
      • Yucca capensis Lenz
      • Yucca jaliscensis Trel.
      • Yucca periculosa Baker
      • Yucca mixtecana Garcia-Mend.
      • Yucca decipiens Trel.
      • Yucca valida Brandegee
      • Yucca potosina Rzed.
      • Yucca filifera Chabaud
    • Series Gloriosae Hochstätter
    • Series Yucca
      • Yucca madrensis Gentry
      • Yucca linearifolia Clary
      • Yucca elephantipes Regel
      • Yucca lacandonica Gomez-Pompa & Valdes
      • Yucca aloifolia L.
      • Yucca yucatana Engelm.
  • Section Clistocarpa Engelm.
      • Yucca brevifolia Engelm.)
        • Yucca brevifolia Engelm. ssp. brevifolia
        • Yucca brevifolia Engelm. ssp. jaegeriana (McKelvey) Hochstätter
        • Yucca brevifolia Engelm. ssp. herbertii (Webber) Hochstätter
  • Section Chaenocarpa Engelm.
    • Series Filamentosae Hochstätter
      • Yucca filamentosa L.
        • Yucca filamentosa L. ssp. filamentosa
        • Yucca filamentosa L. ssp. smalliana (Fernald) Hochstätter
        • Yucca filamentosa L. ssp. concava (Haw.) Hochstätter
      • Yucca flaccida Haw.
    • Series Rupicolae Hochstätter
      • Yucca cernua Keith
      • Yucca pallida McKelvey
      • Yucca queretaroensis Pina Lujan
      • Yucca reverchonii Trel.
      • Yucca rigida (Engelm.) Trel.
      • Yucca rostrata Engelm. ex Trel.
      • Yucca rupicola Scheele
      • Yucca thompsoniana Trel.
    • Series Harrimaniae Hochstätter
      • Yucca harrimaniae Trel.
        • Yucca harrimaniae Trel. ssp. harrimaniae
        • Yucca harrimaniae Trel. ssp. neomexicana (Wooton & Standl.) Hochstätter
        • Yucca harrimaniae Trel. ssp. sterilis (Neese & Welsh) Hochstätter
        • Yucca harrimaniae Trel. ssp. gilbertiana (Trel.) Hochstätter
      • Yucca nana Hochstätter
    • Series Glaucae (McKelvey) Hochstätter
      • Yucca angustissima Engelm. ex Trel.
        • Yucca angustissima Engelm. ex Trel. ssp. angustissima
        • Yucca angustissima Engelm. ex Trel. ssp. toftiae (Welsh) Hochstätter
        • Yucca angustissima Engelm. ex Trel. ssp. kanabensis (McKelvey) Hochstätter
        • Yucca angustissima Engelm. ex Trel. ssp. avia (Reveal) Hochstätter
      • Yucca baileyi Wooton & Standl.
        • Yucca baileyi Wooton & Standl. ssp. baileyi
        • Yucca baileyi Wooton & Standl. ssp. intermedia (McKelvey) Hochstätter
      • Yucca coahuilensis Matuda & Pinja Lujan
      • Yucca elata Engelm.
        • Yucca elata Engelm. ssp. elata
        • Yucca elata Engelm. ssp. utahensis (McKelvey) Hochstätter
        • Yucca elata Engelm. ssp. verdiensis (McKelvey) Hochstätter
      • Yucca glauca Nutt.
        • Yucca glauca Nutt. ssp. glauca
        • Yucca glauca Nutt. ssp. stricta (Sims) Hochstätter
        • Yucca glauca Nutt. ssp. albertana Hochstätter
      • Yucca campestris McKelvey
      • Yucca constricta Buckley
      • Yucca arkansana Trel.
        • Yucca arkansana Trel. ssp. arkansana
        • Yucca arkansana Trel. ssp. louisianensis (Trel.) Hochstätter
        • Yucca arkansana Trel. ssp. freemanni (Shinners) Hochstätter
  • Section Hesperoyucca Engelm.
    • (Treated as a separate genus Hesperoyucca by some sources.)
      • Yucca whipplei Torr.
        • Yucca whipplei Torr. ssp. whipplei
        • Yucca whipplei Torr. ssp. caespitosa (Jones) Haines
        • Yucca whipplei Torr. ssp. intermedia Haines
        • Yucca whipplei Torr. ssp. percursa Haines
        • Yucca whipplei Torr. ssp. newberryi (McKelvey) Hochstätter
        • Yucca whipplei Torr. ssp. eremica Epling & Haines


In the years from 1897 to 1907, Carl Ludwig Sprenger created and named 122 Yucca hybrids.



  1. ^ "Yucca L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-01-19. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/genus.pl?13004. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  2. ^ Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009), "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 132–136, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x 
  3. ^ Irish, Gary (2000). Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants: a Gardener's Guide. Timber Press. p. 18. ISBN 9780881924428. http://books.google.com/books?id=YbVYuq73I0wC&. 
  4. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 4 R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2862. ISBN 9780849326783. http://books.google.com/books?id=2ndDtX-RjYkC&. 
  5. ^ Daniels, Jaret C. "Yucca Giant-Skipper Butterfly, Megathymus yuccae (Boisduval & Leconte) (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)". Electronic Data Information Source. University of Florida IFAS Extension. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in800. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  6. ^ "Ursine Giant-Skipper Megathymus ursus Poling, 1902". Butterflies and Moths of North America. http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=2192. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  7. ^ "Strecker's Giant-Skipper Megathymus streckeri (Skinner, 1895)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=2191. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  8. ^ Couplan, François (1998). The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America. McGraw Hill Professional. ISBN 9780879838218. http://books.google.com/books?id=tb_qBpULHKcC&. 
  9. ^ Baugh, Dick (1999). "the Miracle of Fire by Friction". In David Wescott. Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills (10 ed.). pp. 32–33. ISBN 9780879059118. http://books.google.com/books?id=HlwUo0IccoMC&. 
  • Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 1 Dehiscent-fruited species in the Southwest and Midwest of the USA, Canada and Baja California , Selbst Verlag, 2000. ISBN 3-00-005946-6
  • Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 2 Indehiscent-fruited species in the Southwest, Midwest and East of the USA, Selbst Verlag. 2002. ISBN 3-00-009008-8
  • Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 3 Mexico , Selbst Verlag, 2004. ISBN 3-00-013124-8

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • yucca — yucca …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • Yucca — Yucca …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Yucca — ● Yucca aloifolia ● Yucca angustissima ● Yucca angustifolia ● Yucca arkansana ● Yucca baccata ● Yucca baileyi ● Yucca brevifolia ● Yucca confinis ● Yucca constricta ● Yucca decipiens ● Yucca elata ● Yucca elephantipes ● Yucca endlichiana ● Yucca… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • yucca — [ juka ] n. m. • 1555; esp. yuca « manioc », mot d Haïti ♦ Plante arborescente (liliacées), originaire d Amérique centrale, à tige ligneuse, dont la hampe florale porte une panicule de fleurs en clochettes rosées ou blanches. Le yucca est… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Yucca — ? Yucca Юкка ягодная в Каньоне красной скалы (англ. Red Rock Canyon), Невада Научная классификация Царство …   Википедия

  • yucca — YÚCCA s.f. invar. (bot.) Plantă liliacee din India şi America. ♢ Fibră textilă obţinută din această plantă. – Din engl., fr. yucca. Trimis de spall, 27.02.2002. Sursa: DEX 98  YÚCCA s.f. inv. Plantă liliacee arborescentă din India şi America, cu …   Dicționar Român

  • Yucca — Yuc ca, n. [NL., from Yuca, its name in St. Domingo.] (Bot.) A genus of American liliaceous, sometimes arborescent, plants having long, pointed, and often rigid, leaves at the top of a more or less woody stem, and bearing a large panicle of showy …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Yucca — ist der wissenschaftliche Name für die Gattung der Palmlilien der Name verschiedener Orte in den USA der Name einer Indie Rock Band aus Nürnberg, siehe Yucca (Band) der Künstlername einer japanischen Sängerin, siehe Yucca (Sängerin) Siehe auch:… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • yucca — [yuk′ə] n. [ModL < AmSp yuca < Taino] 1. any of a genus (Yucca) of plants of the agave family, having stiff, sword shaped leaves and white flowers in an erect raceme, found in the U.S. and Latin America 2. the flower of any of these plants …   English World dictionary

  • Yucca — Yuc ca, n. (Zo[ o]l.) See {Flicker}, n., 2. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Yucca — (Y. L.), Pflanzengattung aus der Familie der Liliaceae Aloineae, 6. Kl. 1. Ordn. L.; Arten: Y. filamentosa, mit lanzettförmigen, steifen, stumpf gespitzten, gesägten, an den Sägezähnen mit langen, herabhängenden Fäden besetzten Blättern,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon