|Yucca filamentosa naturalized in New Zealand|
Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae.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 the Americas and the Caribbean.
A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. Some sources cite perennial plants being plants that live more than three years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annuals and biennials. The term is also widely used to distinguish plants with little or no woody growth from trees and shrubs, which are also technically perennials.
A shrub or bush is a small- to medium-sized woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. They are distinguished from trees by their multiple stems and shorter height, and are usually under 6 m (20 ft) tall. Plants of many species may grow either into shrubs or trees, depending on their growing conditions. Small, low shrubs, generally less than 2 m (6.6 ft) tall, such as lavender, periwinkle and most small garden varieties of rose, are often termed "subshrubs".
Early reports of the species were confused with the cassava (Manihot esculenta).Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the Taíno word for the latter, yuca (spelled with a single "c"). It is commonly found growing in rural graveyards and when in bloom the cluster of (usually pale) flowers on a thin stalk appear as floating apparitions.
Manihot esculenta, commonly called cassava, manioc, yuca, macaxeira, mandioca, aipim and Brazilian arrowroot, is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Though it is often called yuca in Spanish and in the United States, it is not related to yucca, a shrub in the family Asparagaceae. Cassava, when dried to a powdery extract, is called tapioca; its fried, granular form is named garri.
Carl Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné, was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus.
Taíno is a poorly-attested Arawakan language that was spoken by the Taíno people of the Caribbean. At the time of Spanish contact, it was the principal language throughout the Caribbean. Classic Taíno was the native language of the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and most of Hispaniola, and it was expanding into Cuba. Ciboney is essentially unattested, but colonial sources suggest that it was a similar language to the Taíno language and was spoken in westernmost Hispaniola, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and most of Cuba.
The natural distribution range of the genus Yucca (49 species and 24 subspecies) covers a vast area of the Americas. The genus is represented throughout Mexico and extends into Guatemala ( Yucca guatemalensis ). It also extends to the north through Baja California in the west, northwards into the southwestern United States, through the drier central states as far north as southern Alberta in Canada (Yucca glauca ssp. albertana).
The Americas comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.
Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.
Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala, is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean to the northeast, Honduras to the east, El Salvador to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. With an estimated population of around 16.6 million, it is the most populated country in Central America. Guatemala is a representative democracy; its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.
Yucca is also native to some of the Caribbean Islands, northward to the coastal lowlands and dry beach scrub of the coastal areas of the southeastern United States, along the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic States from coastal Texas to Maryland.
The Caribbean is a region of The Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.
The Southeastern United States is broadly, the eastern portion of the Southern United States, and the southern portion of the Eastern United States. It comprises at least a core of states on the lower Atlantic seaboard and eastern Gulf Coast. Expansively, it includes everything south of the Mason-Dixon line, the Ohio River and the 36°30' parallel, and as far west as Arkansas and Louisiana. There is no official U.S. government definition of the region, though various agencies and departments use different definitions.
The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida border the Gulf on the north, which are often referred to as the "Third Coast", in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
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 semitemperate zones, although these are generally arid to semi-arid.
A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation. About one-third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid. This includes much of the polar regions where little precipitation occurs and which are sometimes called polar deserts or "cold deserts". Deserts can be classified by the amount of precipitation that falls, by the temperature that prevails, by the causes of desertification or by their geographical location.
Badlands are a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. They are characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of a substantial regolith, and high drainage density. They can resemble malpaís, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, buttes, mesas, hoodoos and other such geologic forms are common in badlands. They are often difficult to navigate by foot. Badlands often have a spectacular color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria.
Prairies are ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and a composition of grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type. Temperate grassland regions include the Pampas of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and the steppe of Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. Lands typically referred to as "prairie" tend to be in North America. The term encompasses the area referred to as the Interior Lowlands of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, which includes all of the Great Plains as well as the wetter, hillier land to the east.
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. Certain species of the yucca moth have evolved antagonistic features against the plant and do not assist in the plants pollination efforts while continuing to lay their eggs in the plant for protection.Yucca species are the host plants for the caterpillars of the yucca giant-skipper ( Megathymus yuccae ), ursine giant-skipper ( Megathymus ursus ), and Strecker's giant-skipper ( Megathymus streckeri ).
Mutualism describes the ecological interaction between two or more species where each species benefits. Mutualism is thought to be the most common type of ecological interaction, and it is often dominant in most communities worldwide. Prominent examples include most vascular plants engaged in mutualistic interactions with mycorrhizae, flowering plants being pollinated by animals, vascular plants being dispersed by animals, and corals with zooxanthellae, among many others. Mutualism can be contrasted with interspecific competition, in which each species experiences reduced fitness, and exploitation, or parasitism, in which one species benefits at the "expense" of the other.
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from a male part of a plant to a female part of a plant, later enabling fertilisation and the production of seeds, most often by an animal or by wind. Pollinating agents are animals such as insects, birds, and bats; water; wind; and even plants themselves, when self-pollination occurs within a closed flower. Pollination often occurs within a species. When pollination occurs between species it can produce hybrid offspring in nature and in plant breeding work.
The Prodoxidae are a family of moths, generally small in size and nondescript in appearance. They include species of moderate pest status, such as the currant shoot borer, and others of considerable ecological and evolutionary interest, such as various species of "yucca moths".
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Species of yucca have adapted to a wide variety of climates in mountains, coastal sand, grasslands and prairies as well as rocky badlands and deserts. Most species of yucca have thick, waxy skins to prevent loss of water through evaporation. They frequently store water in thick roots. Some yuccas store water in thick, fleshy leaves. Some desert plants have an oily coating on their leaves or pads that traps moisture, thereby reducing water loss. Some species drop their leaves during drought to prevent the loss of water through transpiration. Dead leaves of yucca collecting against the trunk of the trees help protect it from the sun. The channeled leaves of a yucca direct dew and rainfall water to their roots. Yuccas are said to be "fire adapted"; that is, they grow and spread vigorously after wildfires.
Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Many species also bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, flowering stems,and more rarely roots. References to yucca root as food often arise from confusion with the similarly pronounced, but botanically unrelated, yuca, also called cassava or manioc (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.The stem (when dried) that sports the flowers is often used in collaboration with a sturdy piece of cedar for making primitive fire. 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 smoke houses.
The flower petals are eaten. The petals are blanched for just 5 minutes, and then cooked a la mexicana (with tomato, onion, chile) or in tortitas con salsa (egg-battered patties with green or red sauce). Reproductive organs are removed before blanching because they are too bitter.
Yuccas are widely grown as architectural plants providing a dramatic accent to landscape design. They tolerate a range of conditions, but are best grown in full sun in subtropical or mild temperate areas. In gardening centres and horticultural catalogues they are usually grouped with other architectural plants such as cordylines and phormiums.
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, so are avoided by landscape contractors.
Several species of yucca can be grown outdoors in temperate climates, including:-
The yucca flower is the state flower of New Mexico. No species name is given in the citation.
As of February 2012 [update] , the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families recognizes 49 species of Yucca and a number of hybrids:
|Species name||Common name|
|Yucca aloifolia L. (Type species) (syn. Yucca yucatana)||Aloe yucca, Spanish bayonet|
|Yucca angustissima Engelm. ex Trel. (including Yucca kanabensis)||Narrowleaf yucca, Spanish bayonet|
|Yucca arkansana Trel.|
|Yucca baccata Torr. (including Yucca thornberi)||Banana yucca, datil|
|Yucca baileyi Wooton & Standl. (syn. Yucca standleyiMcKelvey)|
|Yucca brevifolia Engelm.||Joshua tree|
|Yucca campestris McKelvey|
|Yucca capensis L.W.Lenz|
|Yucca carnerosana (Trel.) McKelvey|
|Yucca cernua E.L.Keith|
|Yucca coahuilensis Matuda & I.L.Pina|
|Yucca constricta Buckley||Buckley's yucca|
|Yucca decipiens Trel.||Palma China|
|Yucca declinata Laferr.|
|Yucca desmetiana Baker|
|Yucca elata (Engelm.) Engelm.||Soaptree yucca|
|Yucca endlichiana Trel.|
|Yucca faxoniana Sarg. (syn. Yucca torreyi)||Torrey yucca|
|Yucca filamentosa L.||Spoonleaf yucca, Filament yucca, or Adam's Needle|
|Yucca filifera Chabaud||Palma Chuna yucca|
|Yucca flaccida Haw.||Flaccid leaf yucca|
|Yucca gigantea Lem. (syn. Yucca guatemalensis)||Spineless yucca|
|Yucca glauca Nutt.||Great Plains yucca|
|Yucca gloriosa L. (including Yucca recurvifolia )||Moundlily yucca, Adam's needle, Spanish dagger|
|Yucca grandiflora Gentry||Sahuiliqui yucca|
|Yucca harrimaniae Trel. (syn. Yucca nana)||Harriman's yucca|
|Yucca intermedia McKelvey||Intermediate yucca|
|Yucca jaliscensis (Trel.) Trel.||Izote|
|Yucca lacandonica Gómez Pompa & J.Valdés||Tropical yucca|
|Yucca linearifolia Clary|
|Yucca luminosa (syn. Yucca rigida)||Blue yucca|
|Yucca madrensis Gentry||Soco yucca|
|Yucca mixtecana García-Mend.|
|Yucca necopina Shinners|
|Yucca neomexicana Wooton & Standl.||New Mexican Spanish bayonet|
|Yucca pallida McKelvey||Pale yucca|
|Yucca periculosa Baker||Izote|
|Yucca potosina Rzed.|
|Yucca queretaroensis Piña Luján|
|Yucca reverchonii Trel.|
|Yucca rostrata Engelm. ex Trel.||Beaked yucca, Big Bend yucca|
|Yucca rupicola Scheele||Texas yucca, or twist-leaf yucca|
|Yucca schidigera Roezl ex Ortgies||Mojave yucca|
|Yucca × schottii||Hoary yucca or mountain yucca|
|Yucca sterilis (Neese & S.L.Welsh) S.L.Welsh & L.C.Higgins|
|Yucca tenuistyla Trel.|
|Yucca thompsoniana Trel.||Thompson's yucca|
|Yucca treculeana Carrière||Texas bayonet, Trecul's yucca|
|Yucca utahensis McKelvey|
|Yucca valida Brandegee||Datilillo|
A number of other species previously classified in Yucca are now classified in the genera Dasylirion , Furcraea , Hesperaloe , Hesperoyucca , and Nolina .
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In the years from 1897 to 1907, Carl Ludwig Sprenger created and named 122 Yucca hybrids.
Yucca baccata is a common species of yucca native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, from southeastern California north to Utah, east to western Texas and south to Sonora and Chihuahua. It is also reported in the wild in Colombia.
Yucca pallida, sometimes called pale yucca, is a species of yucca native to Northern Mexico and parts of the blackland prairies of northern and central Texas, and notable for its light-colored leaves that range from a pale blue-gray to sage-green in color.
Yucca schidigera, also known as the Mojave yucca or Spanish dagger, is a flowering plant that is native to the Mojave Desert, Chihuahuan Desert and Sonoran Desert of southeastern California, Baja California, New Mexico, southern Nevada and Arizona.
Yucca elata is a perennial plant, with common names that include soaptree, soaptree yucca, soapweed, and palmella. It is native to southwestern North America, in the Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Desert in the United States, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, and northern Mexico.
Hesperoyucca whipplei (chaparral yucca, our Lord's candle, Spanish bayonet, Quixote yucca or foothill yucca is a species of flowering plant closely related to, and formerly usually included in, the genus Yucca. It is native to southern California, United States and Baja California, Mexico, where it occurs mainly in chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and oak woodland plant communities at altitudes of 0–2500 m.
Hesperoyucca is a small genus of two recognized species of flowering plants closely related to, and recently split from, Yucca, which is in the century plant subfamily within the asparagus family.
Hesperaloe is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae. It contains perennial yucca-like plants with long, narrow leaves produced in a basal rosette and flowers borne on long panicles or racemes. The species are native to the arid parts of Texas in the United States and Mexico and are sometimes cultivated as xerophytic ornamental plants.
Megathymus yuccae, the yucca giant-skipper, is a rare early season butterfly that is widespread across the southern United States. It belongs in the family Hesperiidae, subfamily Megathyminae.
Megathymus streckeri, or Strecker's giant skipper, is butterfly of the family Hesperiidae. It is found in the United States from southeastern Montana and southwestern North Dakota south to southern Texas and west to northwestern Arizona and southwestern Utah.
Tegeticula corruptrix is a moth of the family Prodoxidae. It is found in North America in south-western California, Arizona, New Mexico, northern Coahuila, western and southern Texas, Colorado, the western plains of Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana. The habitat consists of grassland, shrub desert, rocky hillsides, open pine forests and shrubby grassland.
Yucca declinata is a species of the genus Yucca, family Asparagaceae. It is known only from the vicinity of Bacanora, in the Mexican state of Sonora. Botanist Howard Scott Gentry first collected the species and mentioned it in print, noting the differences between this population and the closely related species Y. grandiflora H. S. Gentry and Y. arizonica McKelvey. He did not, however, describe it as a new species. Later examination of his descriptions and his material led to the recognition of this as a new species.
Yucca angustissima, the narrowleaf yucca, is a plant in the family Agavaceae, known as the "narrow-leaved yucca." It is native to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, but grown elsewhere as an ornamental.
Yucca neomexicanaWooton & Standl. is a plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma. Common name is "New Mexican Spanish Bayonet." It is similar to Y. harrimaniaeTrel. but with a longer flowering stalk and white flowers.
Yucca baileyi is a plant in the family Agavaceae. It is native to Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado but has been cultivated elsewhere. Much of its native range is within the boundaries of the Navajo (Diné) Reservation, hence the common name "Navajo yucca." The Navajo people make extensive use of yucca fibers to make a wide assortment of useful and ceremonial items. They also use the roots as soap.
Yucca utahensis is a species in the family Asparagaceae, native to Utah, Nevada and Arizona. McKelvey
Hesperoyucca newberryi, commonly known as the Grand Canyon Quixote plant or Newberry's yucca, is a plant species endemic to Arizona. It is found only in Mohave and Coconino Counties, on the walls of canyons near the Colorado River.
Another more evocative name for them is 'ghosts in the graveyard.' This comes from the high number of yuccas growing wild in forgotten graveyards, where their large white flower clusters appear as 'ghosts' in the moonlight.
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