Yucca baccata

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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
Species:
Y. baccata
Binomial name
Yucca baccata
Synonyms[3]
  • 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, also known as Spanish bayonet and broadleaf yucca)[4][5] 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.[6]

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 Yucca schidigera, the Mojave yucca, with which it is interspersed where their ranges overlap; hybrids between them occur.

Description[edit]

Yucca baccata is recognized by having leaves 50–76 cm (20–30 in) long[4] with 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.[7]

It is a larval host to the ursine giant skipper, yucca giant skipper, and various yucca moths (Proxodus sp.).[8] After feeding, the skippers pupate in the yucca's roots.[8]

Subspecies[edit]

Yucca baccata has been divided into three subspecies:

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

Distribution[edit]

The plant is known from the Great Basin, the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts, plus the Arizona/New Mexico Mountains ecoregion and lower, southern parts of the Rocky Mountains. It occurs primarily 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, desert grassland, Creosote bush scrub, 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.

Uses[edit]

The Paiutes dried the fruits for use during the winter. It is still a popular food amongst Mexican Indians.[7]

The young flower stalks can be cooked and eaten, with the tough outer rind discarded. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked.[4]

Ancestral Puebloan peoples used the fibers derived from the leaves to create sandals and cordage, and the root was used as soap, although with less frequency than that of Yucca elata.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hodgson, W.; Salywon, A.; Puente, R. (2020). "Yucca baccata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  2. ^ Rep. U.S. Mex. Bound., Bot [Emory] 221. 1859 "Plant Name Details for Yucca baccata". IPNI. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
  3. ^ The Plant List
  4. ^ a b c Elias, Thomas S.; Dykeman, Peter A. (2009) [1982]. Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods. New York: Sterling. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-4027-6715-9. OCLC 244766414.
  5. ^ "Broadleaf Yucca | Colorado's Wildflowers". 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2021-07-07.
  6. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  7. ^ a b Whitney, Stephen (1985). Western Forests (The Audubon Society Nature Guides). New York: Knopf. p. 438. ISBN 0-394-73127-1.
  8. ^ a b The Xerces Society (2016), Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects, Timber Press.
  9. ^ (Organization), Archaeology Southwest (2012). Archaeology Southwest magazine : a quarterly publication of Archaeology Southwest. Archaeology Southwest. OCLC 803078100. Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)

Further reading[edit]