Yucca elata

Common Name: Soaptree Yucca
Oˊodham Name: Takwi  Audio
Group: Succulents - Desert, Desert Grassland

Description
Yucca elata forms one or more tall, shaggy trunks and a spray of long leaves as far as 12 feet above the ground. This species grows mostly in coarse sandy soils above 2000 ft and occasionally to 5000 ft elevation. In years of favorable precipitation, Yucca elata produces a tall, woody panicle containing numerous white flowers about 2-1/2 inches wide.

Yucca flowers open at night to be pollinated by "yucca moths" of the genera Parategiticula and Tegiticula through a tight symbiotic relationship know as mutualism. The moth cross-pollinates the flowers of one plant with pollen from another plant by simultaneously depositing the pollen and its eggs deep inside the ovary. The moth larvae later hatch to feed upon some of the abundant seed. Thus, both species depend upon each other for their own reproduction. Flowers and fruit are also eaten by deer and the seeds are collected by desert rodents. Leaves produce fiber that is used for weaving. Also see Yucca schottii.

Yucca flowers are edible as soup or salad. The white flowers turn into a green eggplant-shaped fruit which ripens to a deep purple by late summer or early fall, depending on the weather. After harvesting, the fruit is sliced open and the black seeds removed. The pulp is then scraped from the inside of the skin. It can be dried and saved for winter months. The roots can be used for designs in basket weaving. Deer consider Yucca fruit a delicacy.
Classification
Kingdom Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
Subclass Liliidae
Order Liliales
Family Agavaceae - Century-plant family
Genus Yucca L. - yucca
Species Yucca elata (Engelm.) Engelm. - soaptree yucca
More Information
USDA Plant Profile and Map
Yucca Pollination by Yucca Moths
Growth and Reproduction of Yucca Elata
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