Scientific Name: Yucca elata
Synonyms: Yucca angustissima var. elata, Y. utahensis, Y. verdiensis
Common Name: Soaptree Yucca
Duration: Perennial, Evergreen
Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub, Unusual Shrub
Arizona Native Status: Native
Habitat: Desert, Upland. It is most common in desert grasslands.
Flower Color: Cream to white
Flowering Season: Spring (late), Summer
Height: Up to 20 feet (6 m) tall without the flower stalk, but usually less
Description: The flowers are loosely clustered at the tops of up to 6 foot (1.8 m) long flower stalks. The individual flowers are drooping, bell-shaped, and 2 inches (5 cm) long. The flowers are followed by 3-chambered, green drying to brown seedpods. The leaves are either in a basal rosette (young plants) or in a rosette atop a short to tall main trunk (older plants). The leaves have sharply pointed tips and narrow white margins and are long, narrowly linear, green, tough, leathery, and white-filiferous (producing white strings). The dead leaves turn brown and droop to cover the trunks. The plants are clump-forming.
The similar Sierra Madre Yucca (Yucca madrensis) has leaves with narrow red margins and either no strings or only a few gray or brown strings, while Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata) has leaves with narrow brown margins and white strings.
Edible – The flower petals from the flowers or buds are edible either raw or cooked.
Legal Status – Protected Native Plant (Salvage Restricted)
Poisonous – The roots contain toxic saponins and were used to make soap.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Family: Agavaceae – Century-plant family
Genus: Yucca L. – yucca
Species: Yucca elata (Engelm.) Engelm. – soaptree yucca
More About This Plant