Also called "soapweed", "beargrass", and "Spanish bayonet", yucca is mostly found south and west of the Missouri River in North Dakota. There are a few records from counties bordering the east side of the River. Elsewhere, the plant grows from southeastern Alberta south to Missouri, Texas, and New Mexico at elevations up to 8,500 ft.
Yucca is perennial from a fibrous horizontal or upright stem bearing one or more erect crowns. Sharp-tipped leaves up to two feet long are rounded on the back and have inrolled margins bearing white filaments. The leaves contain tough fibers. Ten to fifteen flowers form along a spike about three feet long. Flowers are greenish-white and up to 2 1/2 inches long. At maturity, the large capsules enclose long black seeds.
Look for yucca in June or July on dry prairie slopes or in badlands. Slightly greater amounts of yucca will be found where grazing pressure is light or moderate, because cattle like the fleshy flowers and young seedpods. Amerindians of the plains used yucca roots for making soap and hair tonic; central spikes, flowers, and seed pods were eaten, and the spiny leaf tips, often with the fibers still attached, served as ready-made needles and threads!
Hardiness: Zones 4-10
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 80�F. 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.