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ShrubbySpecies Plant

Yucca filamentosa

Yucca filamentosa

Adam’s needle or Spoonleaf Yucca (Yucca filamentosa L.) is a succulent shrub species belonging to the Agavaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Liliopsida class,
Order Liliales,
Agavaceae family,
Genus Yucca,
Y. filamentous species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Yucca filamentosa f. bicolor Trel.;
– Yucca filamentosa f. genuina Engelm;
– Yucca filamentosa f. variegata (Carrière) Trel.;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. bracteata Engelm.;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. elmensis Sprenger;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. foliis-aureovariegata Pynaert;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. genuina Engelm.;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. laevigata Engelm.;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. latifolia Engelm.;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. maxima Baker;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. media Carrière;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. mexicana S.Schauer;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. nobilis Sprenger;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. patens Carrière;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. ramosa Carriere;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. recurvifolia Alph.Wood;
– Yucca filamentosa subsp. variegata Carrière;
– Yucca filamentosa var. bracteata Engelm.;
– Yucca filamentosa var. elmensis Sprenger;
– Yucca filamentosa var. filamentosa;
– Yucca filamentosa var. laevigata Engelm.;
– Yucca filamentosa var. latifolia Engelm.;
– Yucca filamentosa var. maxima Carrière;
– Yucca filamentosa var. media Carrière;
– Yucca filamentosa var. mexicana S.Schauer;
– Yucca filamentosa var. nobilis Sprenger;
– Yucca filamentosa var. patens Carrière;
– Yucca filamentosa var. ramosa Carrière;
– Yucca filamentosa var. recurvifolia Alph.Wood;
– Yucca filamentosa var. variegata Carrière.

Etymology –
The term Yucca comes from the Spanish yuca or juca, attested as early as 1500, in turn from an Amerindian language (perhaps from the arawak, where however it indicated cassava).
The specific filamentous epithet comes from filum filo: filamentous.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Yucca filamentosa is a plant native to the southeastern United States.
It occupies an area that includes the south-east of Virginia as far south as Florida and as far as south and south-east Texas. It has naturalized along the Atlantic coastal plain north of Cape Cod and Long Island Sound and in areas of the lower Midwest. It has also naturalized outside this area also in France, Italy and Turkey.
Its habitat is that of sandy soils, in particular in marine scrub and dunes, but also in arid fields and rocky slopes, although it also grows well in silt or clayey soils.

Description –
Yucca filamentosa is a plant that lacks a trunk as the leaves branch off directly from the rhizomatous formation.
The leaves form a dense, dense basal rosette, in clusters, which can exceed 1 m in width; they are linear about 50 x 2.5 cm, rigid, erect, bluish-green.
It is easily distinguished from other yucca species by the white and threadlike filaments along the leaf margins.
The inflorescence forms a hermitage of numerous bisexual flowers of white or pink color.
Flowering occurs in June-July.
The fruit is a dehiscent capsule, containing black seeds, oblong in shape of about 38 – 50 mm and 20 mm wide.

Cultivation –
Yucca filamentosa is a plant native to the United States, where it grows spontaneously in some areas and is very adaptable and withstands the cold much better than other yuccas.
It is a rustic plant that adapts to all terrains, but prefers sunny exposures.
This plant is widely grown in mild temperate and subtropical climates.
It needs full sun and well-drained soil, preferring an acidic or slightly alkaline pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. It develops a large fleshy white taproot with deep lateral roots. Once planted and established, it is difficult to remove, as the roots continue to send out new shoots for many years. It is normally resistant down to -29 ° C.
The plant is also harvested in its natural state for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials. The roots of the Yucca species are rich in saponins and have a wide range of applications. The plant is commonly grown as an ornamental in gardens.
The Yucca filamentosa has a wide range, can be abundant and even if the population is now fragmented due to the expansion of agriculture, the decline is not enough to place the species in a threatened category. As with all Yucca species, however, this species has a specific pollinator, the Yucca moth (Tegeticula yuccasella) that does not fly long distances.
In regions where the moth cannot live and, if fruits and seeds are needed, manual pollination is required; this can be done quite easily and successfully using something like a small brush.
Since the subpopulations of this Yucca grow in isolated areas, the genetic exchange between the subpopulations is limited and therefore any habitat destruction between the subpopulations could threaten the species. The plant is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2020).
Propagation occurs by seed with sowing in spring. A pre-soaking of the seed for 24 hours in lukewarm water is recommended as this can reduce the germination time. It usually germinates within 1 – 12 months when stored at a temperature of 20 ° C.
The young seedlings are then placed in individual pots and grown, if possible, in a protected area for the first two winters.
The transplant should be done in early summer.
It can also be propagated by root cuttings in late winter or early spring. The technique is to raise the plant in mid-spring by removing the small shoots from the base of the stem and rhizomes. It is then recommended to soak in dry wood ash to stop any sap oozing and planting in a sandy potted soil in an unheated greenhouse until it stabilizes.
Another propagation system is by dividing the suckers in the late spring period. Larger divisions can be planted directly in the open field.
There are some cultivars of this plant.

Customs and Traditions –
Yucca filamentosa is a plant used, even in its natural state, especially in the areas of origin for various uses.
Among the edible uses it should be remembered that you can eat both raw and cooked fruits. These are often dried for winter use.
Both raw and dried and crushed flowers are used as a flavoring and make a tasty addition to salads, even if they are quite bitter.
The tender stem is cooked and used like asparagus.
In the medicinal field, the roots are used which are anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral.
The roots of the Yucca species are rich in saponins and active medicinal compounds. The roots, harvested when the plant is not in bloom, are used to make a healthful drink. It has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, lower blood pressure, and reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis such as pain, swelling and stiffness.
The root, taken orally, is used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, hypertension, migraine, colitis, stomach upset, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, poor circulation and liver and gallbladder disorders.
Applied topically, it is used to treat sores, skin diseases, inflammation, bleeding, sprains, broken limbs, joint pain, baldness and dandruff.
A poultice made from the roots is used in the treatment of sores, skin diseases and sprains.
The root is also a source of steroids of potential use in the pharmaceutical industry.
In addition, many yucca compounds have been used in the synthesis of new drugs.
Among other uses, it should be remembered that the fiber obtained from the leaves of this plant is the most resistant that is obtained from native North American plants; it is used for the manufacture of ropes, fabrics, baskets and mats.
Fiber can also be used to make paper; furthermore, the green leaves easily divide into long strips which can be folded into a rope.
The leaves have long and very strong fibers, a kind of sisal, which, especially in the past, were woven into a strong thread that served as cordage for tying and for building baskets, fishing nets, fishing lines and clothes.
The leaves are used as brushes.
The juice from the plant has a wide variety of uses. In agriculture it is used as a base in liquid fertilizers where its ability to reduce the surface tension of irrigation water considerably favors penetration into heavy soils; significantly helps soil flocculation; acts as a transport agent for plant chemicals.
The yucca extract itself is rich in minor vital elements including boron, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc.
The juice is said to be widely used as a carbon dioxide stabilizer in the control of oil fires, and the saponin from yucca is considered a good base for soaps, shampoos, cleaning powders and toothpastes and powders.
The leaves, stems and roots of this plant can be used to stun fish. The Cherokees used it for this purpose.
This effect is due to the presence of saponins which, although poisonous, also have a wide range of medicinal applications and many plants rich in saponins are used in herbal medicine (in particular as emetics, expectorants and febrifugees) or as sources of materials. raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry.

Preparation Method –
Yucca filamentosa is a plant whose use is multiple, both from a food and medicinal point of view, and for various other uses such as for obtaining fibers.
The fruits, once the seeds have been removed, can be cooked and eaten. The large flower petals can also be eaten in salads.
The leaves are harvested in the summer, are scraped to remove the outer skin and are then soaked in water for 24 hours before cooking. The fibers are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then beaten in a ball mill for 4 hours. You get a cream colored paper.
The roots, which are rich in saponins, were once prepared for use as a soap by boiling them and pounding them into a mush.
The root, from which a poultice is also obtained, is taken orally for various medicinal remedies and applied topically to treat sores, skin diseases, inflammation, bleeding, sprains, broken limbs, joint pain, baldness and dandruff.
The root is also a source of steroids of potential use in the pharmaceutical industry.
In addition, many yucca compounds have been used in the synthesis of new drugs.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
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Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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