Yucca root: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about yucca

Yucca schidigera is a flowering plant of the Asparagaceae family.

Yucca is a small evergreen tree capable of reaching a stature of 16 feet (5 meters). Rising from its conspicuous basal trunk is a dense crown of spirally arranged leaves. The plant's gray-brown bark is covered with brown dead leaves near the top, and is increasingly irregularly rough and scaly-to-ridged closer to the ground.

The plant's thick leaves are 30–150 cm long and 4–11 cm broad at the base, concavo-convex, and are yellow-green to blue-green in color. The rigid leaves appear long and pointy similar in shape to bayonets with their wider base tapering to a narrow top.

The bell-shaped flowers are white, sometimes tinged purple, and approximately 3–5 cm long (rarely to 7.5 cm). They form in compact, bulbous clusters 60–120 cm tall at the top of the stem.

The fruit is an elongate berry, up to 11.5 cm long.

common names & nomenclature
Yucca is the Central and South American name for the cassava plant. It is taken from Spanish yuca, juca (late 15c.), probably from Taino which is the native language of Haiti.

Also known as:
yucca, mohave yucca, spanish dagger

Yucca, the southwestern root plant
Yucca root: Where in the World
habitat and range for yucca

Yucca schidigera is native to the Mojave Desert, Chihuahuan Desert and Sonoran Desert of southeastern California, Baja California, New Mexico, southern Nevada and Arizona.

Yucca root: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting yucca root

Yucca grows in desert climes on rocky slopes and creosote flats. It enjoys altitudes between 300–1,200 meters (980–3,940 ft) and full sun.

Yucca plants will thrive in any soil but prefer a sandy loam. The plants prove to be hardier when grown on poor sandy soils. Once established the yucca plant is very drought tolerant.

Sow seed in spring in a greenhouse. Pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water may reduce the germination time. It usually germinates within 1 - 12 months if kept at a temperature of 20°c. Transplant out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and consider giving them some winter protection for at least their first winter outdoors.

When the plants mature, harvest yucca root in small amounts so as to preserve the main plant’s health and vitality.Dry the root for later use.

Store dried yucca root pieces and dried yucca root powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Yucca root: The Rest of the Story
Yucca Root Recipes
Yucca root is not usually used for culinary purposes and can should not be considered interchangeable with Yuca, which is a potato-like starch popular in South America cuisines. Native Americans used the Yucca leaves of the plant to make rope and other textiles and the root to make soap. Today, yucca root is typically used to make infusion recipes for various topical preparations and cosmetics, including natural deodorants, shampoos and hair rinses.

How to make yucca root shampoo and How to make soap out of yucca root
Yucca root is natural cleanser as it includes natural saponins which are natural cleaning agents. They form a slight foam when you mix with water. This makes yucca root great for making soaps and shampoos. Yucca root soap can be good for people with sensitive skin or who may be allergic to soaps with lye or glycerin.

To make a shampoo or a liquid soap, add a couple tablespoons of yucca root powder into a bowl. Slowly add water to the powder while mixing gently. This will form a paste. Make sure you mix it well enough that there are no visible lumps. Now you can apply it your hair then leave it to soak for a few minutes. Rinse and that’s it. To use the mixture as a soap, simply apply the paste to your hands, wash and rinse.

Additional benefits
The primary medicinal benefit is it’s use as a natural cleansing agent. Infusions of yucca root may be combined with other herbal infusions to make natural shampoos and body washes which provides the benefits of a natural cleansing agent. It may also help with Dandruff and minor skin irritations. Some effective combinations to address dandruff or troubled skin include yucca with lavender, rosemary, sage, or chamomile.