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Yucca elata (Engelm.) Engelm.
Soaptree yucca, Soaptree, Palmilla, Palmella, Amole
USDA Symbol: YUEL
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
This is a 5-20 ft., tree-like yucca with fine, arching, gray-green to blue-green leaves with white margins. Plants resemble coarse bunchgrass when young, gradually developing several heads on trunk-like stems with age. The flowering stem in 3-7 ft. long with 25-30 side branches covered with clusters of creamy-white, bell-shaped flowers. The brown, woody seed capsule is interesting. Evergreen, palmlike shrub or small tree with single trunk or several clustered trunks; unbranched or with few upright branches and very long, narrow leaves. Growth is extremely slow, about 1 (2.5 cm) in height a year. The local name Palmilla, Spanish for small palm, refers to the resemblance of this species to a palm.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
AZ , NM , NV , TX , UT Native Distribution:
S.w. TX to c. & s. AZ; also adjacent Mex. Native Habitat:
Deserts; grasslands; mesas USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained soils. Gypseous, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam.
Conditions Comments: State flower of New Mexico.
Blooms ornamental, Showy, Accent tree
or shrub Use Wildlife:
Nectar-moths, Seeds-Small mammals, Browse. Use Food:
Cattle relish the young flower stalks, and chopped trunks and leaves serve as emergency food during droughts. Indians ate the flower buds, flowers, and young flower stalks of this and other yuccas, either raw or boiled. Use Other:
Soapy material in the roots and trunks of this abundant species has been used as a soap substitute. The leaves are a source of coarse fiber and were used by Native
Americans in making baskets. Conspicuous Flowers:
Butterflies Larval Host:
Yucca giant butterfly.
Yuccas will germinate promptly from fresh seed held over winter. Seeds germinate best in 60-70 degree temperatures. Yuccas may also be grown from rhizomes, stem
cuttings, or by digging offsets from the side of established plants. Transplant into a well Seed Collection:
Gather capsules as they begin to dry but before they split. Allow to dry, then crush to remove seeds. Overwinter, keep seeds in moist sand in the refrigerator. For longer storage periods, keep in sealed, refrigerated containers. Seed Treatment:
Not Available Commercially Avail:
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Austin, TX
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Record Modified: 2010-10-02
Research By: TWC Staff