Yucca baccata

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Banana yucca
Yucca baccata whole.jpg
Yucca baccata at Red Rock Canyon
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Yucca
Y. baccata
Binomial name
Yucca baccata
  • Sarcoyucca baccata (Torr.) Linding.
  • Yucca baccata f. fragilifolia (Baker) Voss
  • Yucca baccata var. hystrix Baker
  • Yucca baccata subsp. vespertina (McKelvey) Hochstätter
  • Yucca baccata var. vespertina McKelvey
  • Yucca filifera Engelm.
  • Yucca fragilifolia Baker
  • Yucca hanburyi Baker
  • Yucca scabrifolia Baker
  • Yucca vespertina (McKelvey) S.L.Welsh
Yucca baccata flowers

Yucca baccata (datil yucca or banana yucca) is a common species of yucca native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, from southeastern California north to Utah, east to western Texas and south to Sonora and Chihuahua. It is also reported in the wild in Colombia.[3]

The species gets its common name "banana yucca" from its banana-shaped fruit. The specific epithet "baccata" means 'with berries'. Banana yucca is closely related to the Mojave yucca (Y. schidigera), with which it is interspersed where their ranges overlap; hybrids between them occur.

Yucca baccata is recognized by having leaves 30–100 cm long with more of a blue-green color, and short or nonexistent trunks. It flowers in the spring, starting in April to July depending on locality (altitude), and the flowers range from 5 to 13 cm long, white to cream with purple shades. The flower stalk is not especially tall, typically 1–1.5 meters. The seeds are rough, black, wingless, 3–8 mm long and wide, 1–2 mm thick; they ripen in 6–8 weeks. The indehiscent fleshy fruit is 8–18 cm long and 6 cm across, cylindrical, and tastes similar to sweet potato.[4]

The Paiutes dried the fruits for use during the winter. It is still a popular food amongst Mexican Indians.[4]

It is a larval host to the ursine giant skipper, yucca giant skipper, and various yucca moths(Proxodus sp.).[5] After feeding, the skippers pupate in the yucca's roots.[5]


Yucca baccata has been divided into three subspecies:

  • Yucca baccata ssp. baccata—Datil Yucca, Banana Yucca
  • Yucca baccata ssp. thornberi (McKelvey) Hochstätter—Thornber's Yucca
  • Yucca baccata ssp. vespertina (McKelvey) Hochstätter—Mohave Datil Yucca


The plant is known from the Great Basin, the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts, in the states of Utah, California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States, and the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. It can be found in several habitat types, including Pinyon-Juniper, Sagebrush, and Ponderosa pine colonies at elevations generally between 1,500 and 2,500 meters.

It is associated with Yucca schidigera, Yucca brevifolia, Yucca arizonica, Yucca faxoniana, Agave utahensis, and other Agave species. It can be found among Sclerocactus, Pediocactus, Navajoa, and Toumeya species.

Yucca baccata occurs in a large area of the North American deserts and exhibits much variation across its range. Yucca baccata specimens from the higher, mountainous regions of the Rocky Mountains is winterhardy and tolerates extreme conditions.


  1. ^ Rep. U.S. Mex. Bound., Bot [Emory] 221. 1859 "Plant Name Details for Yucca baccata". IPNI. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
  2. ^ The Plant List
  3. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  4. ^ a b Whitney, Stephen (1985). Western Forests (The Audubon Society Nature Guides). New York: Knopf. p. 438. ISBN 0-394-73127-1.
  5. ^ a b The Xerces Society (2016), Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects, Timber Press.