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Yucca schidigera

Yucca schidigera

The Mojave yucca or Spanish dagger (Yucca schidigera Roezl ex Ortgies) is a succulent shrub species belonging to the Asparagaceae 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,
Species Y. schidigera.
The terms are synonymous:
– Sarcoyucca mohavensis (Sarg.) Linding.;
– Yucca californica Nutt.;
– Yucca californica Nutt. ex Baker;
– Yucca macrocarpa Merriam;
– Yucca mohavensis Sarg.;
– Yucca schidigera Roezl;
– Yucca schindigera Roezl;
– Yucca schindigera Roezl ex Ortgies.

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 epithet schidigera comes from schidia splinter and from gero bring: which carries a splinter of wood, alluding to the coarse marginal fibers on the edge of the leaf blade.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Yucca schidigera is a plant native and typical of the Mojave desert of the southwestern area of ​​North America.
The plant is present in the Chihuahuan desert, in the Sonoran desert of south-eastern California, Baja California, New Mexico, southern Nevada and Arizona.
Its typical habitat is that of the rocky slopes of the desert and desert plains between 300-1,200 m of altitude, rarely up to 2,500 m, where it grows in full sun and in soils with excellent drainage. This plant often grows together with the Yucca baccata, which is found in the same range and sometimes hybrid individuals of the two species are found.

Description –
Yucca Schidigera has a very expanded radical apparatus in width and is a small evergreen shrub that grows up to 5 meters high, with a dense crown of bayonet leaves arranged in a spiral on the top of a conspicuous basal trunk.
The cortex is gray-brown in color, being covered with brown death leaves near the top, becoming irregularly rough and scaldicated with rippled closer to the ground.
The leaves are 30–150 centimeters long and 4–11 cm wide at the base, of concave-convex shape, thick, very rigid and in color from green to blue-green to yellow.
The flowers are white, sometimes with a purple shade, 3–5 cm long, rarely up to 7.5 cm, in the shape of a bell and segmented in six parts; They are brought to a compact and bulbous bunchy 60–120 cm high which forms in the upper part of the stem.
The fruit is an elongated berry, up to 11.5 cm long.

Cultivation –
Yucca Schidigera is a shrub with an extensive radical apparatus that allows her to recover even a few drops of water, thus managing to satisfy her modest water needs. This development strategy limits the growth of other plant essences in the surface occupied by the roots, reducing the competition.
The plant has long been used in the natural state for local use as a food and source of materials. The roots of the Yucca species, and above all of this species, are rich in saponins and have a wide range of applications. The plant is also grown as an ornamental in the gardens.
This plant manages to vegetate in desert habitats in the stain of Chaparral and Creosoto, in altitudes from sea level up to 2,500 meters.
Although it is able to tolerate occasional short -term temperatures up to about -5 ° C, it does not grow very well in humid climates, being particularly intolerant to winter rains.
It thrives on any ground, but prefers sandy soils and full south exposure. From a pedological point of view tolerates the alkaline soils and the plants are more resistant if cultivated on poor sandy soils on which they are very resistant to drought.
It is a slow but long -growing species, which usually lives more than 200 years, perhaps more than 500 years
It is a plant that after a fire manages to regrify itself from the roots.
This Yucca, like others, is pollined by small white wallane of the Yucca (Tegeticula Yucasella and similar species) with which they have a special plant-insect mutualism. At night, the scented flowers attract the female moth that feeds on the nectar. So the insect rolls the pollen with flowers in a ball that is three times larger than its head and door to the next flower. There, first it lays the eggs inside the immature ovary and then placed the pollen on the stigma of the flower ensuring that seeds are formed to feed its offspring.
In the regions where the moth cannot live, to produce seeds, manual pollination is required.
Propagation takes place by seed with sowing in spring. A pre-amollo of the seed for 24 hours in warm water can be reduced can reduce germination time.
The young seedlings must then be placed in individual vessels and made, possibly, in a protected area for the first two winters.
The transplant must be carried out in the early summer.
It can also be propagated by root cutting at the end of winter or early spring. The technique is to lift the plant in mids spring by removing the small sprouts from the base of the stem and rhizomes. It is then recommended to immerse in dry wood ash to stop any sap of sap and plant in a sandy ground in a non -heated greenhouse pot until it stabilizes.
Another propagation system is by means of a division of the lungs in the period of late spring. The larger divisions can be planted directly in the open field.

Uses and traditions –
Yucca Schidigera is a plant used for a remote time, by Native Americans, as a source of food, medicinal use and for the use of parts of the plant.
In the edible use, young flowery stems are used, chopped and cooked like asparagus or baked in the oven like sweet potatoes.
The fruits consume raw or baked in the oven, then dried and ground in powder, then used in soups, etc. or turn into a drink.
With the fruits you can also make jellies.
The flowers consume raw or cooked; raw are exquisite but they can also dry, crush and use as a condiment or to prepare gelatines.
In medicinal use the roots that are anti -inflammatory, anticancer and antiviral are used, as they are rich in saponins and active medicinal compounds. The roots, collected when the plant is not in bloom, are used to make a healthy drink. It has been shown that it lowers the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, lowers blood pressure and reduces the symptoms of arthrosis as pain, swelling and rigidity.
Orally taken, they are used in the treatment of arthrosis, hypertension, migraine, colitis, stomach disorders, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, poor circulation and liver and gallbladder disorders.
Applied locally, they are used to treat plagues, skin diseases, inflammation, hemorrhages, distortions, broken limbs, joint pain, baldness and dandruff.
Furthermore, many compounds of the Yucca have been used in the synthesis of new drugs.
Among other uses, it should be remembered that the leaves, or a fiber obtained from them, have been used to make ropes, baskets and mats; In addition, the strongest fibers were used to make shoes and sandals.
The leaves were used to make brushes for body painting and to paint vases, etc.
The juice of the plant has a wide variety of uses. In agriculture it is used as a basis in liquid fertilizers where its ability to reduce the surface tension of irrigation water significantly promotes penetration in heavy soils; helps the flocculation of the soil marked; It acts as a transport agent for plant chemicals. Yucca’s same extract is full of minor vital elements including Boro, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper and Zinc.
It seems that the juice is widely used as a carbon dioxide stabilizer in the fire control and the Yucca saponin is considered a good base for soaps, shampoo, cleaning powders and toothpastes and dust.
From an ecological point of view, this plant, after fire, produces numerous sprouts and thus witnessing the regeneration of the seedlings. Over time, the invasive species that have been introduced into the ecosystem, such as graminaceous, have become more tolerant of fire, increasing the frequency of fires and altering the fire regime in the past.
It should also be remembered that, as mentioned earlier, some moths collect pollen from the flowers and deposit it on the stigma of a flower, in the ovary of which eggs lay; The larvae eat the fruit capsule as it grows, but leave some seeds to develop in fruits.

Preparation methods –
Yucca Schidigera is a plant of which, currently, extracts are used in the preparation of animal feed and in various herbal medicines. The rigid stem of the Yucca flower, after the maturation, is used as a substitute for the stems or eucalyptus trunks to make the Didgeridoo (winding tools with the lips of the Aborigines). They are also used as natural deodorants and in pet deodorants. The steroid saponins are commercially produced by Y. Schidigera which can be used as a food surfactive of natural derivation. Y. Schidigera is an ingredient found in a quarter of the food sold for dogs. It is mainly included in their food to reduce the smell of waste of most pets.
In addition, the fibers of Yucca Schidigera’s leaves are used by Native Americans to make ropes, fabrics, wires and sandals. The flowers and fruit are eaten raw or roasted, and the black seeds are ground in a flour. The roots are used to make soap. Some relationships say that the Native Americans wash their hair with the Yucca to fight dandruff and hair loss.
The roots must be collected when the plant is not in bloom and are used to make a healthy drink.
Finally, capsules based on inflorescences such as natural health products are sold.

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. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian Vascular Flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler publisher.
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Attention: pharmaceutical applications and halimurgical uses are indicated to mere information purpose, do not represent in any way medical prescription; Therefore, any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes is declined.

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