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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Asparagales

Familia: Asparagaceae
Subfamilia: Agavoideae
Genus: Yucca
Sectiones: Y. sect. Chaenocarpa - Y. sect. Clistocarpa - Y. sect. Endlichiana - Y. sect. Hesperoyucca - Y. sect. Yucca

Species: Y. aloifolia - Y. angustissima - Y. arkansana - Y. baccata - Y. baileyi - Y. brevifolia - Y. campestris - Y. capensis - Y. carnerosana – Y. cernua – Y. coahuilensis – – Y. declinata – Y. de-smetiana – Y. elata – Y. endlichiana – Y. faxoniana - Y. filamentosa – Y. filifera – Y. flaccida – Y. gigantea - Y. glauca - – Y. gloriosa – Y. grandiflora – Y. harrimaniae – Y. intermedia – Y. jaliscensis – Y. lacandonica – Y. linearifolia – Y. luminosa – Y. madrensis – Y. mixtecana – Y. necopina – Y. neomexicana – Y. pallida – Y. periculosa – Y. potosina – Y. queretaroensis – Y. reverchonii – Y. rostrata - Y. rupicola - Y. schidigera – Y. sterilis – Y. tenuistyla – Y. thompsoniana – Y. treculeana – Y. utahensis – Y. validaY. constricta - Y. decipiens

Nothospecies: Y. × andreana – Y. × baccatissima – Y. × bacsoniana – Y. × baylissima – Y. × consana – Y. × feeanoukiae – Y. × glaucissima – Y. × intermediate – Y. × karlsruhensis – Y. × keithii – Y. × necopina – Y. × oklahomensis – Y. × pollyjeaniae – Y. × quinnarjenii – Y. x schottii


Yucca L. (1753)
Type species: Yucca aloifolia L.


Iuka Adans., Fam. 2: 567. 1763.

Codonocrinum Willd. ex Schult. & Schult.f. in Roemer & Schult., Syst. Veg. 7: 718. 1829.
Type species: Codonocrinum agavoides Willd. ex Schult.f.
Clistoyucca (Engelm.) Trel., Rep. (Annual) Missouri Bot. Gard. 13: 41. 1902.
Type species: Clistoyucca arborescens Trel.
Samuela Trel., Rep. (Annual) Missouri Bot. Gard. 13: 116. 1902.
Type species: non design.
Sarcoyucca (Trel.) Linding., Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 50(1): 446. 1933.
Type species: Sarcoyucca aloifolia (L.) Linding.


Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 319.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2015. Yucca in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2015 June 22. Reference page.
Hochstetter, C.F.F. (2000) Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 1 Dehiscent-fruited species in the Southwest and Midwest of the USA, Canada and Baja California, Selbst Verlag, 2000. ISBN 3-00-005946-6
Hochstetter, C.F.F. (2002) Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 2 Indehiscent-fruited species in the Southwest, Midwest and East of the USA, Selbst Verlag. 2002. ISBN 3-00-009008-8
Hochstetter, C.F.F. (2004) Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 3 Mexico, Selbst Verlag, 2004. ISBN 3-00-013124-8
International Plant Names Index. 2015. Yucca. Published online. Accessed: June 22 2015.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2019. GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset. Taxon: Yucca. . 2015. Yucca. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2015 June 22.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Palmlilien
suomi: Jukat
հայերեն: Արմավաշուշան, ադամի ասեղ
русский: Юкка
svenska: Palmliljesläktet

Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae.[2] Its 40–50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry (arid) parts of the Americas and the Caribbean.

Early reports of the species were confused with the cassava (Manihot esculenta).[3] Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the Taíno word for the latter, yuca.[4]

Distribution of the capsular fruited species in southwest, midwest USA, Mexico's Baja California and Canada, overview

The natural distribution range of the genus Yucca (49 species and 24 subspecies) covers a vast area of the Americas. The genus is represented throughout Mexico and extends into Guatemala (Yucca guatemalensis). It also extends to the north through Baja California in the west, northwards into the southwestern United States, through the drier central states as far north as southern Alberta in Canada (Yucca glauca ssp. albertana).

Yucca is also native to some of the Caribbean Islands, northward to the coastal lowlands and dry beach scrub of the coastal areas of the southeastern United States, along the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic States from coastal Texas to Maryland.

Yuccas have adapted to an equally vast range of climatic and ecological conditions. They are to be found in rocky deserts and badlands, in prairies and grassland, in mountainous regions, in light woodland, in coastal sands (Yucca filamentosa), and even in subtropical and semitemperate zones, although these are generally arid to semi-arid.


Yuccas have a very specialized, mutualistic pollination system, being pollinated by yucca moths (family Prodoxidae); the insect transfers the pollen from the stamens of one plant to the stigma of another, and at the same time lays an egg in the flower; the moth larva then feeds on some of the developing seeds, always leaving enough seed to perpetuate the species. Certain species of the yucca moth have evolved antagonistic features against the plant and do not assist in the plant's pollination efforts while continuing to lay their eggs in the plant for protection.[5]

Yucca species are the host plants for the caterpillars of the yucca giant-skipper (Megathymus yuccae),[6] ursine giant-skipper (Megathymus ursus),[7] and Strecker's giant-skipper (Megathymus streckeri).[8]

Large Joshua tree with thick trunk at Grapevine Springs Ranch, AZ
Purplish fruits of Yucca aloifolia.

Beetle herbivores include yucca weevils, in the Curculionidae.

Species of yucca have adapted to a wide variety of climates in mountains, coastal sand, grasslands and prairies as well as rocky badlands and deserts. Most species of yucca have thick, waxy skins to prevent loss of water through evaporation.

Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Many species also bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, flowering stems,[9] and more rarely roots. References to yucca root as food often arise from confusion with the similarly pronounced, but botanically unrelated, yuca, also called cassava or manioc (Manihot esculenta). Roots of soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) are high in saponins and are used as a shampoo in Native American rituals. Dried yucca leaves and trunk fibers have a low ignition temperature, making the plant desirable for use in starting fires via friction. The stem (when dried) that sports the flowers is often used in collaboration with a sturdy piece of cedar for fire making.[10] In rural Appalachian areas, species such as Yucca filamentosa are referred to as "meat hangers". The tough, fibrous leaves, with their sharp-spined tips, were used to puncture meat and knotted to form a loop with which to hang meat for salt curing or in smoke houses. The fibers can be used to make cordage, be it sewing thread or rope.


The flower petals are commonly eaten in Central America, but its reproductive organs (the anthers and ovaries) are first removed because of their bitterness.[11] The petals are blanched for 5 minutes, and then cooked a la mexicana (with tomato, onion, chili) or in tortitas con salsa (egg-battered patties with green or red sauce). In Guatemala, they are boiled and eaten with lemon juice.[11]

In El Salvador, the tender tips of stems are eaten, and known locally as cogollo de izote.[11]

Yuccas are widely grown as architectural plants providing a dramatic accent to landscape design. They tolerate a range of conditions, but are best grown in full sun in subtropical or mild temperate areas. In gardening centres and horticultural catalogues they are usually grouped with other architectural plants such as cordylines and phormiums.[12]

Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are protected by law in some states. A permit is needed for wild collection. As a landscape plant, they can be killed by excessive water during their summer dormant phase, so are avoided by landscape contractors.

Several species of yucca can be grown outdoors in temperate climates, including:-[12]

Yucca filamentosa
Yucca flaccida
Yucca gigantea
Yucca gloriosa
Yucca recurvifolia


The yucca flower is the state flower of New Mexico in the southwest United States. No species name is given in the citation; however, the New Mexico Centennial Blue Book from 2012 references the soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) as one of the more widespread species in New Mexico.[N 1]

As well, it is the national flower of El Salvador, where it is known as "flor de izote".

As of February 2012, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families recognizes 49 species of Yucca and a number of hybrids:[13]

Plant Flowers Species name Common name
Yucca aloifolia 4.jpg Yucca-aloifolia-20071002-2.jpg Yucca aloifolia L. (Type species) (syn. Yucca yucatana) Aloe yucca, Spanish bayonet
Yucca angustissima fh 1179.14 AZ B.jpg 2015.05.08 15.35.42 IMG 2033 - Flickr - andrey zharkikh.jpg Yucca angustissima Engelm. ex Trel. (including Yucca kanabensis) Narrowleaf yucca, Spanish bayonet
Yucca arkansana fh 1185.30 TX B.jpg Arkansas Yucca (Yucca Arkansana) (4617871936).jpg Yucca arkansana Trel.
Yucca baccata whole.jpg Yucca baccata close.jpg Yucca baccata Torr. (including Yucca thornberi) Banana yucca, datil
Yucca baileyi.jpg Yucca baileyi ssp. intermedia fh 1208 NM B.jpg Yucca baileyi Wooton & Standl. (syn. Yucca standleyi McKelvey)
Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Park.jpg Yucca brevifolia flower.jpg Yucca brevifolia Engelm. Joshua tree
Yucca campestris fh 1179.82 BB.jpg Yucca campestris McKelvey
Yucca capensis fh 0619 Baja California Sur B.jpg Yucca capensis L.W.Lenz
Yucca carnerosana fh 1179.26 TX B.jpg Yucca carnerosana (Trel.) McKelvey
Yucca cernua fh 1184.94 TX B.JPG Yucca cernua fh 1185.31 TX BB.JPG Yucca cernua E.L.Keith
Yucca coahuilensis fh 1184.45 TX BB.jpg Yucca coahuilensis Matuda & I.L.Pina
Yucca constricta fh 1180.67 TX B.jpg Yucca constricta Buckley Buckley's yucca
Yucca decipiens.jpg Yucca decipiens 2.jpg Yucca decipiens Trel. Palma china
Yucca declinata Laferr.
Yucca desmetiana Baker
Yucca elata blooming.jpg Yucca elata flowers.jpg Yucca elata (Engelm.) Engelm. Soaptree yucca
Yucca endlichiana fh 0334 MEX B.jpg Yucca endlichiana Trel.
Yucca torreyi fh 1180.18 TX B.jpg Yucca faxoniana Sarg. (syn. Yucca torreyi) Torrey yucca
Yucca filamentosa.jpg Yucca filamentosa1.jpg Yucca filamentosa L. Spoonleaf yucca, filament yucca, or Adam's needle
Yucca filifera Monaco.jpg Yucca filifera Chabaud Palma china
Yucca flaccida.jpg Yucca flaccida Haw. Flaccid leaf yucca
Barcelona 354.JPG Yucca gigantea Lem. (syn. Yucca guatemalensis) Spineless yucca
Yucca glauca soapweed MN 2007.JPG Yucca glauca Sinijukka VII08 H6193.jpg Yucca glauca Nutt. Great Plains yucca
Yucca gloriosa 10.JPG Yucca gloriosa L. (including Yucca recurvifolia) Moundlily yucca, Adam's needle, Spanish dagger
Yucca grandiflora fh 0401 MEX B.jpg Yucca grandiflora Gentry Sahuiliqui yucca
2015.05.09 07.13.50 IMG 2070 - Flickr - andrey zharkikh.jpg Yucca harrimaniae subsp. gilbertiana fh 1186.14 UT B.jpg Yucca harrimaniae Trel. (syn. Yucca nana) Harriman's yucca
Yucca baileyi subsp. intermedia fh 1179.25 NM B.jpg Yucca intermedia McKelvey Intermediate yucca
Yucca jaliscensis.jpg Yucca jaliscensis (Trel.) Trel. Izote
Yucca lacandonica fh 0376 MEX B.jpg Yucca lacandonica Gómez Pompa & J.Valdés Tropical yucca
Yucca linearifolia MEX BB.jpg Yucca linearifolia Clary
Mexican Blue Yucca, Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Albuquerque NM.jpg Yucca luminosa (syn. Yucca rigida) Blue yucca
Yucca madrensis Gentry Soco yucca
Yucca mixtecana fh 0380 MEX B.jpg Yucca mixtecana García-Mend.
Yucca necopina Shinners
Yucca harrimaniae subsp. neomexicana fh 1180.76 COL B.jpg Yucca neomexicana Wooton & Standl. New Mexican Spanish bayonet
Yucca pallida.jpg Yucca pallida McKelvey Pale yucca
Yucca periculosa 1.jpg Yucca periculosa Baker Izote
Yucca potosina fh 0388 MEX B.jpg Yucca potosina Rzed.
Yucca queretaroensis fh 0335 MEX B.jpg Yucca queretaroensis Piña Luján
Yucca reverchonii - Botanischer Garten der Universität Würzburg.JPG Yucca reverchonii Trel.
Yucca rostrata.jpg Yucca rostrata Engelm. ex Trel. Beaked yucca, Big Bend yucca
Yucca rupicola.jpg Yucca rupicola Scheele Texas yucca, or twist-leaf yucca
Yucca schidigera blooming.jpg Yucca schidigera Roezl ex Ortgies Mojave yucca
Monaco.Jardin exotique014.jpg Yucca × schottii Hoary yucca or mountain yucca
Yucca harrimanniae subsp. sterilis fh 1179. 78 UT B.jpg Yucca sterilis (Neese & S.L.Welsh) S.L.Welsh & L.C.Higgins
Yucca tenuistyla Trel.
Yucca thompsoniana (TS213984).jpg Yucca thompsoniana flowers.jpg Yucca thompsoniana Trel. Thompson's yucca
Yucca treculiana fh 1182.28 TX B.jpg Yucca 02.jpg Yucca treculeana Carrière Texas bayonet, Trecul's yucca
Yucca utahensis 4.jpg Yucca utahensis 1.jpg Yucca utahensis McKelvey
Yucca valida fh 0602 BC B.jpg Yucca valida Brandegee Datilillo

A number of other species previously classified in Yucca are now classified in the genera Dasylirion, Furcraea, Hesperaloe, Hesperoyucca, and Nolina.
In the years from 1897 to 1907, Carl Ludwig Sprenger created and named 122 Yucca hybrids.


No species name is listed in state statutes, however the New Mexico Centennial Blue Book from 2012 references the soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) as one of the more widespread species in New Mexico.


"Yucca L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009), "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 132–136, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x
Irish, Gary (2000). Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants: a Gardener's Guide. Timber Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-88192-442-8.
Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 4 R-Z. Taylor & Francis US. p. 2862. ISBN 978-0-8493-2678-3.
Segraves, Kari A.; Althoff, David M. & Pellmyr, Olle (1 October 2008). "The evolutionary ecology of cheating: does superficial oviposition facilitate the evolution of a cheater yucca moth?". Ecological Entomology. 33 (6): 765–770. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2311.2008.01031.x. S2CID 55871573.
Daniels, Jaret C. "Yucca Giant-Skipper Butterfly, Megathymus yuccae (Boisduval & Leconte) (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)". Electronic Data Information Source. University of Florida IFAS Extension. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
"Ursine Giant-Skipper Megathymus ursus Poling, 1902". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
"Strecker's Giant-Skipper Megathymus streckeri (Skinner, 1895)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
Couplan, François (1998). The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America. McGraw Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-87983-821-8.
Baugh, Dick (1999). "the Miracle of Fire by Friction". In David Wescott (ed.). Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills (10 ed.). pp. 32–33. ISBN 978-0-87905-911-8.
Pieroni, Andrea (2005). Prance, Ghillean; Nesbitt, Mark (eds.). The Cultural History of Plants. Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 0415927463.
RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1405332965.

World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, retrieved 2012-02-23, search for "Yucca"


Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 1 Dehiscent-fruited species in the Southwest and Midwest of the USA, Canada and Baja California , Selbst Verlag, 2000. ISBN 3-00-005946-6
Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 2 Indehiscent-fruited species in the Southwest, Midwest and East of the USA, Selbst Verlag. 2002. ISBN 3-00-009008-8
Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 3 Mexico , Selbst Verlag, 2004. ISBN 3-00-013124-8

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