Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Yucca

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Yucca

Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, (asparagus). Yucca, of the agave family, native to the warmer regions of America, has pointed, usually rigid, sword-shaped leaves and clusters of white, waxy flowers. It is also the state flower of New Mexico. They are native to the hot and dry (arid) parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

A cool fact is that Yucca is known in the United States as “ghosts in the graveyard,” as it is commonly found growing in rural graveyards and when in bloom in the twilight or dark, the flowers appear as a glowing apparition floating.

Yuccas have a very specialized, mutualistic pollination system. They are pollinated by yucca moths (family Prodoxidae); the insect purposefully 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.

Medicinally, Yucca is used for osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, inflammation of the intestine (colitis), high cholesterol, stomach disorders, diabetes, poor circulation, and liver and gallbladder disorders.

This Yucca gets included in the list of “Barbara’s Favorite Flowers” because I like the exotic tropical edge and geometric height it gives to a garden. It’s pretty maintenance free, though I like to remove the lower dead fronds, giving it more of a palm tree shape. My mother always despised the flowers as she does Hosta flowers. She viewed them as secondary to the leaves. I personally love the huge charge of bellflowers you get two to three times a year when not much else is blooming, and the height is great too.

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