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Yucca filifera

 

Tree Yucca, St. Peter’s Palm

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
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
SpeciesfiliferaFrom the Latin for “bearing threads”

About plant names...

Tree yuccas are native to northeastern Mexico. They were first described by Benjamin Chabaud in 1876. Yuccas are rich in saponins, and have been used in the past as a substitute for soap. Here is a famous specimen from the Exotic Garden of Monaco.

Identification: Plants reach 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). Like other yuccas, clusters of sharp rigid straplike leaves emerge from the plant tops, interspersed with tough curly thin white filaments. Leaves are blue-green in color, forming clusters up to 3' (91 cm) in diameter. Flower clusters 4-6' (1.2-1.8 m) long are covered with cream-colored flowers.

See the Yucca page for a comparison with other yuccas.

Edibility: The fruit is edible raw or cooked. Flowers are said to be delicious, and even the flowering stems may be cooked and eaten like asparagus.

Online References:

Yucca filifera at the Encyclopedia of Stanford Trees, Shrubs and Vines

Yucca filifera on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Yucca filifera on Desert-tropicals.com

Yucca filifera on Wikimedia Commons

Yucca filifera on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

References:

Irish, Mary & Irish, Gary, Agaves, Yuccas and Related Plants: A Gardener’s Guide, Timber Press, 2000, p. 249

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

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Yucca filifera (Tree Yucca, St. Peter’s Palm)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Range: Zones 8-12:

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