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Soapweed Yucca (Yucca glauca)

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

There is that ugly word "weed" again... I only use it because that is this plant's common name. I prefer the term Yucca glauca. This highly useful species of Yucca was once utilized in many ways by the Native Americans. It has all but become forgotten as the years have passed, however. It grows readily in certain microclimates at high elevations (9000'), and that is why I want to spotlight it today.

In permaculture, this plant can be an inexpensive way to create erosion control on steep, dry hills. Especially in the direct sunlight, these will grow rapidly in the correct conditions. They can also be a cheap method of fencing or bordering. When they are grown close together they will repel predators and protect more vulnerable plants from grazing wildlife.

They may also keep out the neighbors...

In ancient America, this type of yucca had many uses. The Zuni people would boil and eat the seed pods. The leaves could be made into rope and baskets. They even became water carrying devices once they had been braided tightly. They had many other uses, brushes for decorating pottery being one.

Above all it was the roots that gave this plant its name. The roots would be pounded, lathered into suds with a little water, and then used as a soap for both people and clothing or blankets.

The flowers are huge bell shaped flowers, quite a sight to see for sure! Attract hummingbirds to your high desert garden!

Today this plant can be used for all of the methods described above. Both as a key component in landscaping/gardening and as a useful way to make many essential things around the household. They will be appreciated by the pollinators as well. Yucca is an essential part to a high mountain desert landscape, making this a key plant for the High Altitude Homestead.

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