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Yucca

 

 

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyAsparagaceaeAgaves, asparagus, hyacinths, and others
GenusYuccaLinnaeus mistakenly derived the genus name from the Carib word for (similar-appearing) cassava, yuca

About plant names...

It remains a mystery why Linnaeus chose the Carib word yucca, meaning the entirely dissimilar cassava plant (Manihot esculenta), for the genus Yucca. Yuccas used to be in the lily family, but have recently been found to be part of the agave family. Generally they have thick narrow straplike leaves that emerge from a common point at the base, looking like a tuft of very large grass. Most yucca leaves have springy, wiry white filaments, a distinctive characteristic. Sometimes they have thick stems, making them tree-like. A tall central spike emerges from the leaves, covered with large, attractive flowers. Although most yuccas are adapted to hot, dry climates, some are comfortable in temperate climates too.

The yuccas on this page have not yet been identified.

Some yuccas are acaulescent: they have no stems, and the leaves grow directly from the ground. Others are small trees with stout, sometimes branched, trunks. Here is a comparison of the stemless yuccas presently in the database:

 

Yucca

(Yucca) · 2/26/2010 · San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA Species not yet identified

Yucca

(Yucca) · 5/2/2007 · By Jeffrey A. Barry Species not yet identified

 
Yucca arkansana

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca glauca
Common Name

Yucca

Adam’s Needle

Narrow-leaved Yucca
Plant Foliage up to 24" (60 cm); up to 7' (2.1 m) with the flower stalk 30" (76 cm) tall × 30" (76 cm) wide To 3' (1 m) high × 4' (1.2 m) wide
Flowers Flowering spike is covered with numerous greenish-white or purplish urn-shaped hanging flowers, each with 3 petals Copious, downward-hanging urn-shaped flowers with sharply pointed petals on a stalk 3-8' (91-243 cm) tall 15-50 bell-shaped hanging flowers, greenish-white, with six petals, on a stalk 12-80" (30-203 cm) tall
Leaves 16-28" (40-70 cm) long, wide at the base, narrowing toward the tips, like large grass blades, with white twisted wiry filaments. They are bluish- to yellowish-green Medium green, swordlike leaves up to 3' (91 cm) long, emerging from a central point, with wiry white filaments Pale green, stiff, sword-shaped leaves 8-40" (20-101 cm) long, up to ⅛-⅜" (6-12 mm) wide
Seeds Dark brown seed capsules Capsules are yellow-green to purple, about 1" (2.5 cm) long × ½" (1.3 cm) wide Cylindrical capsules up 1-1¾" (3-4.5 cm) long
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 6a-9b

USDA Zones: 5-10

USDA Zones: 4a-10b
Habitats Open fields, edges of thickets on uplands   Dry plains and sandy hills
Type Wild Wild Wild
Occurrence     Common

 

 
Yucca harrimaniae
Common Name

Spanish Bayonet
Plant In groups of one to twenty tufts, each about 12-39" (30-100 cm) around
Flowers Urn-shaped, white, cream, or greenish white, sometimes tinged with purple, with purplish buds. 3 petals and 3 sepals. Flowers 1½-2" (4-6 cm) long × ⅝-1¼" (1.6-3.5 cm) wide
Leaves Tufts of stiff, narrow, sharp-pointed leaves 4-20" (10-50 cm) × ¼-½" (7-14 mm)
Seeds Cylindrical, 1¼-2" (3.5-6 cm) long × ½-1" (1.5-3 cm) in diameter
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 5a-10a
Habitats Grassland, sagebrush, pinyon-juniper forest, on desert ridges and hills; 3281-8858' (1-2.7 km) elevation
Type Wild
Occurrence Common

 

These yuccas are small trees:

 
Yucca elata

Yucca filifera

Yucca schidigera
Common Name

Soaptree Yucca

Tree Yucca

Mojave Yucca
Plant A small tree 4-15' (1.2-4.5 m) tall, with a thick brown trunk, sometimes branched, mostly covered in a skirt of dried leaves Up to 33-46' (10-14 m) in height, and a diameter of up to 9½' (3 m). They typically begin to branch out at a height of 9½-13' (3-4 m). A small tree, up to 16' (5 m) tall, topped by a dense array of swordlike leaves. Bark is gray-brown, with a skirt of dead leaves near the top
Flowers White, bell-shaped, 1-2" (3-6 cm) long. Flowers are on a spike that emerges well above the leaves In clusters 4-6' (1.2-1.8 m) long are covered with cream-colored flowers. White, sometimes tinged with purple, urn-shaped, 1-3" (3-7.5 cm) long, copious, on a central spike
Leaves In dense whorls at the top(s) of the trunk(s). Leaves are yellowish, leathery, 10-39" (25-100 cm) × ¹/₁₆-½" (2-13 mm) wide Clusters of sharp rigid straplike leaves emerge from the plant tops, interspersed with tough curly thin white filaments. Leaves are blue-green, forming clusters up to 3' (91 cm) in diameter. 12-59" (30-150 cm) long × 1½-4" (4-11 cm) wide at the base, tapering to sharp tips; thick, stiff, yellow- to blue-green, with wiry white filaments.
Seeds Capsules 1½-3" (4-8 cm) × ¾-1½" (2-4 cm)   Dark brown or dull black capsule with six sections, roughly cylindrical, 1¾-4½" (5-12 cm) long × 1-1½" (3-4 cm) in diameter
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 7-12

USDA Zones: 8-12

USDA Zones: 9-10
Habitats Dry, sandy plains, mesas and desert washes, desert grasslands   Rocky desert slopes and creosote desert flats, elevations below 1.3 mi (2.1 km)
Type Wild Wild Wild
Occurrence Common    

 

 
Yucca thompsoniana

Yucca schottii
Common Name

Beaked Yucca

Blue Yucca
Plant A small tree 6-12' (1.8-3.7 m) high and 6' (1.8 m) wide, with a trunk that is sometimes branched. Leaves emerge in a spherical shape from the tips of the trunk(s), with dead leaves forming a skirt Larger than most yuccas. A tree up to 20' (6.1 m) high, branched up to 6' (1.8 m) high.
Flowers White, round to bell-shaped, on 24-36" (60-91 cm) stalks above the leaf clusters White or cream-colored, up to 1¾" (5 cm) long. Each with 3 petals and 3 sepals.
Leaves Stiff, narrow, swordlike, 8-24" (20-60 cm) × ½" (1.3 cm). Leaf edges are hard, pale yellow, often with fine teeth 18-36" (45-91 cm) long, blue- or gray-green, stiff, smooth, swordlike. Leaves lack filaments.
Seeds 1-2" (3-6 cm) long × ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm) thick  
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 7b-11

Habitats   Hillsides and canyons, at 4000-7000' (1.2-2.1 km) elevation
Type Wild Wild

 

Online References:

Yucca on the Succulent Plant Page

Yucca on Wikipedia

Yucca on PlantSystematics.org

Yucca on Fritz Hochstätter's Yuccas and Agaves site

Yucca

(Yucca) · 5/2/2007 · By Jeffrey A. Barry Species not yet identified

Yucca

(Yucca) · 5/2/2007 · By Jeffrey A. Barry Species not yet identified

Yucca description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Yucca

(Yucca) · 5/2/2007 · By Jeffrey A. Barry Species not yet identified

Yucca

(Yucca) · 5/25/2009 · Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ
≈ 4 × 6½' (1.3 × 2.0 m) Species not yet identified