Yucca filamentosa, Adam’s needle and thread, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae native to the southeastern United States. Growing to 3 m (10 ft) tall, it is an evergreen shrub valued in horticulture for its architectural qualities.
Usually trunkless, it is multisuckering with heads of 75 cm (30 in) long, filamentous, blue-green, strappy leaves. Y. filamentosa is readily distinguished from other yucca species by white, thready filaments along the leaf margins. Flower stems up to 3 m (10 ft) tall bear masses of pendulous cream flowers in early summer. They are pollinated by the yucca moth Tegeticula yuccasella. Other moth species, such as Tegeticula intermedia, also use this yucca as a host plant to lay their eggs.
Distribution and habitat
Yucca filamentosa is found from southeast Virginia south to Florida, and as far west as south and southeast Texas. It has become naturalized along the Atlantic coastal plain north to Long Island Sound and into areas of the lower Midwest. It is reportedly also naturalized in France, Italy and Turkey.
This plant is 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.
Y. filamentosa is widely cultivated in mild temperate and subtropical climates. A fairly compact species, it nevertheless presents a striking appearance with its sword-like leaves and dramatic flowerheads. It is naturally a focal point in the landscape, also providing a tropical touch in temperate gardens. 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 lateral roots. Once planted and established, it is difficult to remove, as the roots keep sending up new shoots for many years. It is normally hardy down to −29 °C (−20 °F) (USDA hardiness zones of 5 to 9: UK H7).
'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. ‘Color Guard’, with broad yellow stripes all year plus red stripes in the winter, has also won the award.
Other cultivars include:
- 'Golden Sword' - similar to 'Bright Edge', but larger[clarification needed]
- 'Ivory Tower' - creamy white flowers tinged with green
Once the seeds have been removed, the fruits can be cooked and eaten. The large flower petals can also be eaten in salads.
- Linnaeus, Species Plantarum 1: 319. 1753.
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- 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.
- Wunderlin, R. P. 1998. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida i–x, 1–806. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.
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- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
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- Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) . The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 616. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
- Duffy, K. (2004). Harvesting Nature's Bounty, Second Edition. City: Bookman Pub. ISBN 1-59453-294-X.
- Yucca filamentosa. Native American Ethnobotany. University of Michigan, Dearborn.
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