Yucca filamentosa

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Adam's needle or silk-grass
Yukka filamentosa.jpg

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Agavoideae
Genus: Yucca
Species: Y. filamentosa
Binomial name
Yucca filamentosa

Yucca filamentosa[1] is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae[2] native to the southeastern United States as far west as Louisiana, and along the East Coast from central Florida to southeast Virginia. They have become naturalized north along the East Coast to coastal Rhode Island and into parts of the lower Midwest. [3] They are normally hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 5 to 9. Most commonly found in sandy soils, especially in beach scrub and dunes, but also in fields, barrens, and rocky slopes, though it grows well also in silt or clay soils. Its common names include Adam's needle, common yucca, Spanish bayonet,[4] bear-grass, needle-palm, silk-grass, and spoon-leaf yucca.[5] The species is also reportedly naturalized in France, Italy and Turkey.[6]


Yucca filamentosa, flowers close up.
Mature specimen growing as an understory plant in the Southeastern United States exhibiting trunk formation.

Usually trunkless, it is a multisuckering evergreen shrub with heads of 75 cm (30 in) long, filamentous, blue-green, strappy leaves. It is fully hardy, though in cultivation it benefits from a sheltered position away from winter winds. Y. filamentosa is readily distinguished from other yucca species by white, thready filaments along the leaf margins.[7] Flower stems up to 3 m (10 ft) tall bear masses of pendulous cream flowers in early summer.[3] They are pollinated by the yucca moth Tegeticula yuccasella.[8][9]

Y. filamentosa is closely related to Yucca flaccida and it is possible they should be classified as a single species.[3]


Y. filamentosa is widely cultivated in mild temperate and subtropical climates as a broadleaved evergreen plant. It needs full sun and a well-drained soil, preferring an acid or slightly alkaline pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. It develops a large, fleshy, white taproot with deep large lateral roots. Once planted and established, it is difficult to remove it as the deep roots keep sending up new shoots for many years. 'Bright Edge', a dwarf cultivar with yellow-margined foliage and creamy flowers tinged with green, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[10]

Other cultivars include:

  • 'Golden Sword' - similar to 'Bright Edge', but larger.
  • 'Ivory Tower' - creamy white flowers tinged with green.
  • 'Color Guard' - broad yellow stripes all year, plus red stripes in the winter.

Other uses[edit]

The leaves, stems and roots of this plant can be used to stun fish.[11] The Cherokee used it for this purpose.[12]


  1. ^ Linnaeus, Species Plantarum 1: 319. 1753.
  2. ^ Yucca filamentosa. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
  3. ^ a b c "Yucca filamentosa". Flora of North America. 
  4. ^ Yucca filamentosa. NatureServe. 2012.
  5. ^ Yucca filamentosa. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).
  6. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  7. ^ The Reader's Digest Gardeners' Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers. Reader's Digest Association. Sydney. 1999.
  8. ^ Marr, D. L., et al. (2000). Pollen dispersal in Yucca filamentosa (Agavaceae): the paradox of self-pollination behavior by Tegeticula yuccasella (Prodoxidae). American Journal of Botany 87(5), 670-77.
  9. ^ Wunderlin, R. P. 1998. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida i–x, 1–806. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
  10. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Yucca filamentosa 'Bright Edge'". Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Duffy, K. (2004). Harvesting Nature's Bounty, Second Edition. City: Bookman Pub. ISBN 1-59453-294-X. 
  12. ^ Yucca filamentosa. Native American Ethnobotany. University of Michigan, Dearborn.

External links[edit]