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Although yuccas are more typical of western deserts and grasslands, some are native in the east such as the Yucca filamentosa. It is a species of shrub in the Agavaceae family that has a self-supporting growth form. Although native to the southeastern states of the U.S., this yucca grows in central and northeast states as well as in some locations across Ontario and Quebec. This is a drought hardy shrub that has a southwestern look. Adam's needle has a long history of ethnobotanical uses which include food, medicine, cordage and soap.
The very short, fibrous, semi-woody to pulpy stems occur at ground level and are hidden by the dense evergreen foliage.
Flowering stalks can grow anywhere from 150 to 240cm (5 to 8') tall.
Yucca filamentosa leaves are broadleaf evergreen that grow in a basal rosette, are simple, and somewhat sword-shaped. The leaves are tough and have a rigid feel to them. On average, leaves are up to 45cm (18”) long and 5cm (2”) wide. The apex is sharply cusped, margins are usually inrolled and contain curly thread-like filaments. Typically leaves are green but can be gold/yellow.
These showy flowers measure on average to be 6cm (2.5") long and bloom (depending on location) anywhere from spring through to mid summer. Waxy creamy white bell-shaped flowers occur as panicles on tall stalks.
Oblong green fruits mature to brown and on average measure 5cm long (2”) by 2cm wide (3/4”) and they produce many black seeds.
Adam's needle has adapted to hot, dry regions in areas that are protected from fire. It occurs in dry, sandy soils along the coast, rocky and sandy places, bluffs, thin woods, oldfields and other open areas. It is also a prized cultivated shrub. In addition to locations throughout the U.S. and eastern Canada, this shrub also grows in some European countries and other countries.
The edible flowers taste somewhat like bitter artichoke and can be used fresh in salads, cooked in soups or stews, or roasted. The fruit is about 10cm (4") long and is usually roasted or baked. It has a somewhat sweet, molasses or fig-like flavor. The fruit can also be dried and ground into a sweet meal.
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We are not health professionals, medical doctors, nor are we nutritionists. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this web site. Please click here for more information.