|Large Soaptree yucca|
Yucca elata is a perennial plant, with common names that include soaptree, soapweed, and palmella. It is native to southwestern North America, in the Sonoran Desert and Chihuahuan Desert in the United States (western Texas, New Mexico, Arizona), and northern Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sonora, Nuevo León).
This plant grows from 1.2-4.5 m tall, with a sparsely branched trunk. The trunk is brown, cylindrical in shape and has a small diameter and often has holes drilled by escaping Yucca moth larvae. The leaves are arranged in a dense spiral whorl at the apex of the stems, each leaf 25–95 cm long and very slender, 0.2-1.3 cm broad. The white, bell-shaped flowers grow in a dense cluster on a slender stem at the apex of the stem, each flower 32–57 mm long, creamy white, often tinged pinkish or greenish.
There are three subspecies:
- Yucca elata ssp. elata. Capsules large, 5–8 cm; leaves long, 30–95 cm. Throughout the species' range.
- Yucca elata ssp. verdiensis. Capsules small, 4-4.5 cm; leaves short, 25–45 cm. Arizona only.
- Yucca elata ssp. utahensis.
These plants fare best in dry, semi-desert conditions. They are very cold-hardy, but need lots of sunlight.
Yucca elata and subspecies are winterhardy in central Europe. Exemplare can be seen in n Washington, southwest Idaho and in British Columbia, Canada.
Native Americans used the fiber of the Soaptree Yucca's leaves to make sandals, belts, cloth, baskets, cords, and mats, among other items. Inside the trunk and roots of the plant is a soapy substance high in saponins. In the past, this substance was commonly used as a substitute for soap and shampoo, which was used to treat dandruff and hairloss. At least one tribe, the Zuni, used mixture of soap made from yucca sap and ground aster to wash newborn babies to stimulate hair growth. The Apaches also use yucca leaf fibers to make dental floss and rope. In times of drought ranchers have used the plant as an emergency food supply for their cattle.
- Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 1 Dehiscent-fruited species in the Southwest and Midwest of the USA, Canada and Baja California , Selbst Verlag, 2000. ISBN 3-00-005946-6
- Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 2 Indehiscent-fruited species in the Southwest, Midwest and East of the USA, Selbst Verlag. 2002. ISBN 3-00-009008-8
- Fritz Hochstätter (Hrsg.): Yucca (Agavaceae). Band 3 Mexico , Selbst Verlag, 2004. ISBN 3-00-013124-8
- Yucca plant care
- Common names of yucca species
- Die Gattung Yucca Fritz Hochstätter
- Yucca I  Verbreitungskarte I Fritz Hochstätter
- Flora of North America: Yucca elata
- Blue Planet Biomes entry for the Soaptree yucca