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Yucca brevifolia - Engelm.
                 
Common Name Joshua Tree, Jaeger's Joshua tree, Yucca, Joshua Tree
Family Agavaceae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards The roots contain saponins[222]. Whilst saponins are quite toxic to people, they are poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass straight through. They are also destroyed by prolonged heat, such as slow baking in an oven. Saponins are found in many common foods such as beans[K]. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].
Habitats Arid mesas and mountain slopes, usually at 650 - 2200 metres[229].
Range South-western N. America - California to Utah.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary
Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Yucca brevifolia Joshua Tree, Jaeger


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Yucca brevifolia Joshua Tree, Jaeger
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Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
Yucca brevifolia is an evergreen Tree growing to 9 m (29ft 6in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Synonyms
Clistoyucca arborescens. Clistoyucca brevifolia. Sarcoyucca brevifolia

Habitats
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Fruit;  Root;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses:

Flowers - cooked[257]. The flower buds, before opening, can be parboiled in salt water to remove the bitterness, drained and then cooked again and served like cauliflower[183]. The opened flowers are rich in sugar and can be roasted and eaten as candy[183]. Fruit - cooked[257]. The fruits can be roasted then formed into cakes and dried for later use[257]. Root - raw, boiled or roasted[183]. Seed[183]. Gathered and eaten by the local Indians[82]. No further details are given, but it is probably ground into a powder and mixed with cornmeal or other flours and used for making bread, cakes etc. Immature seedpod[257]. No more details given.
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



None known
Other Uses
Basketry;  Brush;  Dye;  Fibre;  Soap;  Weaving.

A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making ropes, baskets, sandals, clothing and mats[82, 257]. The whole leaf can be woven into mats etc and it can also be used as a paint brush[82, 257]. The dark red core of the roots has been used as a pattern material in coiled baskets[257]. The core is split into strands, soaked and worked in with the coiling so that the colour is always on the outside[257]. Red and black dyes have been obtained from the roots[257]. The roots are rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute[21, 85]. It makes a good hair wash[85, 94]. Wood - light, soft, spongy, difficult to work[82]. Sometimes cut into thin layers and used as wrapping material, or manufactured into boxes and other small articles[82].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Massing, Specimen. Thrives in any soil but prefers a sandy loam and full exposure to the south[11]. Plants are hardier when they are grown on poor sandy soils[200]. Prefers a hot dry position[166], disliking heavy rain[3]. Established plants are very drought resistant[11]. The flowers of this species are malodorous[200]. In the plants native environment, its flowers can only be pollinated by a certain species of moth. This moth cannot live in Britain and, if fruit and seed is required, hand pollination is necessary. This can be quite easily and successfully done using something like a small paint brush. Individual crowns are monocarpic, dying after flowering[233]. However, the crown will usually produce a number of sideshoots before it dies and these will grow on to flower in later years[233]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. Special Features:North American native, Not North American native, Blooms are very showy.
Propagation
Seed - sow 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. Prick 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 - a simple pane of glass is usually sufficient[K].. Seed is not produced in Britain unless the flowers are hand pollinated. Root cuttings in late winter or early spring. Lift in April/May and remove small buds from base of stem and rhizomes. Dip in dry wood ashes to stop any bleeding and plant in a sandy soil in pots in a greenhouse until established[78]. Division of suckers in late spring[3]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the following spring.

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Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
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Expert comment
 
Author
Engelm.
Botanical References
200
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
 
Elizabeth H.
Mary Neville Mon Sep 6 17:25:04 2004
i was struck on the top of the head by a spanish sword (i think) and am having an extremely toxic local reaction...is this something that you have heard of? anything i can do...it is extremely tender and painful, and i can't raise my eyebrows without considerable discomfort... it was a tree in my city, about a mile away, on the sidewalk, and not trimmed high enough to avoid an unsuspecting passerby...unfortunately, i was not looking up and raised my head just in time to get stabbed...is it like pyracantha? poison tipped?? thanks for any info you can provide...mary
Elizabeth H.
jamie Tue Feb 14 2006
what if you fell back against a yucca leaf and the tip broke off in your skin. What would be the reaction? Please let me know. Thanks, Jamie
Elizabeth H.
jamie Tue Feb 14 2006
what if you fell back against a yucca leaf and the tip broke off in your skin. What would be the reaction? Please let me know at jamaxwin@sbcglobal.net. Thanks, Jamie
Elizabeth H.
Elizabeth Broughan Mon Sep 3 2007
is the fruit on the Joshua tree edibile? if no what would the reaction be? thanks let me know Lizzie. lizzie_snowdemon@hotmail.com
Elizabeth H.
Jaime Espinal Mon Dec 28 2009
Does the Yucca leaves have any negative indication or toxic elements for internal use on humans? Thank you
Elizabeth H.
david Mon Dec 28 2009
Apparently the leaf bases of certain Yuccas are fleshy and edible after cooking (From "The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America") unfortunately they dont say which Yuccas....presumably all with a fleshy base. Generally the leaves are too tough to eat, they are used for ropes(above). I have not found any references to the leaves being poisonous, it seems unlikely but I can't guarantee it. I personally wouldn't chew them with present info.
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Subject : Yucca brevifolia  

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