Yucca 

(yuck’ cah)

Common name: Yucca, Adam’s Needle, Spanish Bayonet, Roman Candle, Needle Palm

Family: asparagus family (Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae, formerly in the Agave family, Agavaceae)

Height x width: foliage 2-3’ x 2-3’, flower scape 3-10’ tall

Growth rate, habit: slow to moderate; round base, upright flower spikes

Foliage: many leaves about 1" wide and up to 2’ long, arising from the base, sharp pointed on ends, margins of leaves with thread-like curly filaments; green, but variegated in some cultivars

Flowers: generally early to midsummer 3-10’ spikes, upper third to half with long, branched panicle with hanging flowers, nearly white and 1-2" long; cultivar scapes are generally shorter, 3-5’ tall

Hardiness: zones 4-9, cultivars cold-hardy to zones 5-6

Soil: well-drained, light, tolerates drought well

Light: full sun

Pests and Problems: few, occasional leaf blight and spots

Landscape habit, uses: specimen or accent from bold, coarse texture; southwest or xeriphytic gardens

Other interest: common names from sharply spiked leaves, or tall flower scapes; genus name for Manihot which was mistakenly applied to this plant in 17th century; often sweetly night-scented, being pollinated in wild by nocturnal moths; native to the U.S.

Other culture: resents or hard to transplant, to place carefully in the beginning

Propagation: stem cuttings, division of offsets from plant base, seeds (germinate slow, need cool, require 4-5 years before flowering)

Species: of the 40 species, only a few are usually found, with filamentosa the most common, and the species more commonly found than cultivars

filamentosa (fil-a-men-toe’ sah)-- may be called Spoonleaf Yucca from concave or spoon-shaped leaves

filifera (flaccida) (fill-i’ fer’ah)--similar to above, only smaller and more flexible leaves

gloriosa (glor-ee-o' sah)--likely parent of some hybrids, Spanish dagger, native to S.E. U.S., 6ft high and wide, late summer bloom

(photo courtesy plasmaplus, photobucket.com)

rostrata (ross-trah’ tah)--Blue Yucca, bluish foliage, less hardy (zone 7), native to Mexico
 
 

Cultivars: variegated cultivars have become popular recently, some cultivars listed as hybrids have confused parentage; those marked * may be more commonly seen
 
Cultivar species leaves other
‘Bell Tree’ (‘Schellenbaum’) hybrid green large panicles
'Bright Edge’ filamentosa yellow margins  
‘Color Guard’ hybrid creamy gold centers zone 6 hardy
‘Elegantissima’ filamentosa blue-green bright white flowers
‘Fountain’ (‘Fontane’) hybrid green, wide creamy white, 3’ tall
‘Garland Gold’ filifera wide gold centers  
‘Giant Bell’ (‘Glockenriese’) hybrid green creamy white, 6’
‘Gold Edge’ hybrid thin, yellow margins  
‘Gold Heart’ filamentosa creamy yellow centers  
*‘Golden Sword’ filamentosa bright yellow centers  
‘Ivory’ filifera green horizontal, ivory fls
‘Polar Bear’ (‘Eisbar’) filamentosa green 3 years from seed
‘Rosenglocken’ filamentosa green pinkish flowers
‘Snow Fir’ (‘Schneetanne’) hybrid green yellow-white flowers
‘Snow Spruce’ (‘Schneefichte’)  hybrid green white flowers
*‘Variegata’ filamentosa white margins  

 (most photos courtesy Missouri Botanical Gardens plantfinder)


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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