Yucca filamentosa , commonly known as yucca, is a flowering evergreen shrub in the asparagaceae family. It is native to the dry, hot regions of West Indies and the Americas.
The plant is highly adaptable which has helped it spread to other regions of the world.
Yucca is easy to identify due to its unique rosette of lance-shaped, succulent leaves, and large off-white or white blooms.
Yucca plants grow in the wild and are also cultivated as ornamentals. They are also grown for food purposes. Yucca is no ordinary plant. It is as tough as nails and highly tolerant. The plant can thrive in drought and still look good. If you plant it in containers at home, yucca will still do well without losing its beauty.
If you are a lazy gardener, this is your dream plant as it rarely requires water, pruning, or fertilizer. In fact, too much pampering does more harm to the plant than good.
When a yucca plant is in bloom, there is no mistaking it as the seemingly dormant plant suddenly erupts in white flowers that are attention-grabbing.
Though yucca is now mostly used as an ornamental plant due to its beautiful foliage and blossoms, in days gone by, it was an important source of food. In addition, yucca’s leaves and stems are also used to make fiber for weaving while the roots are great for making soap.
Though you can eat the flowers and fruits of yucca when they are raw, the stems contain saponins, which can be toxic and have a soapy taste. To break down the saponins and make the stems palatable, they must be cooked before eating.
Yucca’s flowers and fruits are quite a delicacy. People who try them for the first time say that they taste like artichoke, though others say the taste is milder. In some instances, the flowers might have bitter notes depending on how sensitive a person is to bitter flavors. Yucca flowers can be used in stews and soups or tossed in scrambled eggs. You can also sautée the flowers and enjoy them as a side dish.
Yucca should never be mistaken with yuca (manihot esculenta) or cassava plant. Yuca is basically a nut-flavored, starchy, tubular root of the cassava plant commonly utilized as a potato substitute. The two plants might have a name that looks similar but they are quite different.
Now, if you do not like fussy plants but prefer tough, beautiful plants, then you are in luck. Yucca is what you need in your garden. And it comes with an added benefit as you can eat it too.