Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia)

Tree
Y. arborescens.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Joshua Tree
Yucca brevifolia
Agavaceae

A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making ropes, baskets, sandals, clothing and mats[82, 257].

The whole leaf can be woven into mats etc and it can also be used as a paint brush[82, 257].

The dark red core of the roots has been used as a pattern material in coiled baskets[257]. The core is split into strands, soaked and worked in with the coiling so that the colour is always on the outside[257].

Red and black dyes have been obtained from the roots[257].

The roots are rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute[21, 85]. It makes a good hair wash[85, 94].

Wood – light, soft, spongy, difficult to work[82]. Sometimes cut into thin layers and used as wrapping material, or manufactured into boxes and other small articles[82].

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    Flowers – cooked[257]. The flower buds, before opening, can be parboiled in salt water to remove the bitterness, drained and then cooked again and served like cauliflower[183]. The opened flowers are rich in sugar and can be roasted and eaten as candy[183].

    Fruit – cooked[257]. The fruits can be roasted then formed into cakes and dried for later use[257].

    Root – raw, boiled or roasted[183].

    Seed[183]. Gathered and eaten by the local Indians[82]. No further details are given, but it is probably ground into a powder and mixed with cornmeal or other flours and used for making bread, cakes etc.

    Immature seedpod[257]. No more details given.

  • Cautionary Notes

    The roots contain saponins[222]. Whilst saponins are quite toxic to people, they are poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass straight through. They are also destroyed by prolonged heat, such as slow baking in an oven. Saponins are found in many common foods such as beans[K]. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water may reduce the germination time. It usually germinates within 1 – 12 months if kept at a temperature of 20¡c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and consider giving them some winter protection for at least their first winter outdoors – a simple pane of glass is usually sufficient[K].. Seed is not produced in Britain unless the flowers are hand pollinated. Root cuttings in late winter or early spring. Lift in April/May and remove small buds from base of stem and rhizomes. Dip in dry wood ashes to stop any bleeding and plant in a sandy soil in pots in a greenhouse until established[78]. Division of suckers in late spring[3]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the following spring.
Thrives in any soil but prefers a sandy loam and full exposure to the south[11]. Plants are hardier when they are grown on poor sandy soils[200]. Prefers a hot dry position[166], disliking heavy rain[3]. Established plants are very drought resistant[11]. The flowers of this species are malodorous[200]. In the plants native environment, its flowers can only be pollinated by a certain species of moth. This moth cannot live in Britain and, if fruit and seed is required, hand pollination is necessary. This can be quite easily and successfully done using something like a small paint brush. Individual crowns are monocarpic, dying after flowering[233]. However, the crown will usually produce a number of sideshoots before it dies and these will grow on to flower in later years[233]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]
South-western N. America – California to Utah.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.