* Banana Yucca – Yucca baccata
(YUK-uh bah-KAY(or CAH)-tuh)
Family: Agavaceae (Agave Family)
Native to: Widespread in Southwestern U.S. from California’s eastern desert mountains to CO, TX
and Mexico. Occurs in Mojave, Sonoran and Great Basin Deserts; uncommon on on dry slopes and
in dry Joshua tree woodlands up to ~ 7000 ft (lower in CA).
mature height: 3-6+ ft.
mature width: 3-10+ ft.
Part-woody sub-shrub that looks like a typical Yucca. Long (1-2 ½ ft), strap-like leaves in a basal
rosette. Leaves have sharp spines on their tips and curling fibers along their sides. Plant is rather
stiff in appearance. Size and other characteristics depend greatly on available water. Produces
offshoots (pups) on spreading rhizomes – slowly spreading.
Blooms in spring – as early as April and as late as June. Flowers are on a stout
stalk that rises slightly above the leaves. Large (1-3 inches), white-purple Yucca flowers cluster
along the flowering stalk for several weeks. Very dramatic! Pollinated by the nocturnal pronuba
moth. Fruit is fleshy, resembling a small banana (hence the common name) and edible (usually
roasted or baked). Important food plant for people and small creatures, birds.
Uses in the garden: Most often used in rock gardens or desert-themed gardens.
Nice accent plant
in Mediterranean or Central American style gardens. Would also complement modern architecture.
Can be grown in large containers. Make good barrier plants, rustic hedges.
Sometimes grown as
a food plant, source of fibers for basketry or source of soap (saponins from roots).
Sensible substitute for: Non-native Agaves.
Excellent habitat plant: provides cover for lizards, habitat for a wide range of insects and
fruits/seeds which are eaten by many animals and birds.
Full sun to light shade.
Well-drained (rocky/sandy are best); any local pH.
Very drought tolerant but looks better with monthly summer water – Zone 1-2.
Little to no mulch; inorganic mulch fine.
Carefully (wear protection) remove spent flower stalks. Easy. Don’t overwater.
Propagation: from seed: best with 2 month cold treatment
by offsets: ?winter
Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 2, 6, 8, 16, 24, 44
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