Yucca aloifolia L.

One of the prettiest sights that you will see in the desert is a yucca in bloom. From the center of a rosette arrangement of sharp-pointed leaves, a tall, erect stalk rises sometimes to a height of six feet. The top part of the stalk is covered with large, creamy-white, bell shaped blossoms that hang and droop.

I have a friend whose brother has a string of pack horses. A veterinarian told the brother that one of hi horses was getting arthritis. He told him to get some yucca pellets and give them to the horse. The brother got the yucca pellets and mixed them in with his horses feed. In a short while, the horse was spry as ever. The brother wondered if these yucca pellets would help his arthritis, so he started to take a few. Of course they didn't taste too good, but he took them anyway. Sure enough, they started to help his arthritis. He knew that yucca grew out on the desert, so he went out and found a root and took it home. He washed the yucca root real good, took part of it, mashed it up and made tea out of it. He also ground some up and mixed it in with some of his food. He said it didn't taste bad and it sure did help his arthritis.

The flower of the yucca is lily-like. Some blossoms are greenish-white, some are very white and some are creamy white brown spots or flecks on them. They usually hang or droop down and are closed throughout the day, but at night, they open up and are very beautiful. Most blossoms give off a strong fragrance that can be smelled across the desert at night. The yucca is an evergreen plants that keeps most of its leaves all year round. As the outer or bottom leaves grow old, they fall off and decompose, benefiting all the plants around it.

The yucca is a genus that belongs to the lily family. There are many species of the yucca genus. Some are small perennial shrubs, while others grow into trees like the Joshua tree. There is the narrow leaf yucca, the banana yucca, the Navajo, the soap tree yucca, the Adams needle, Spanish dagger and many more.

For many centuries, the Indians of the Southwest have used this plant for many purposes. There is even a built-in needle and thread for those who need to sew.

Not many know the medicinal values of yucca. It has been used to fight arthritis, gout, skin and scalp problems, indigestion, heal ulcerations, colon problems and to help overcome cancer. Yucca contains a large amount of saponin. This is a group of glucosides that can produce lather or is a super wetting agent. Some feel that saponin helps the body to produce its own cortisone which helps to relieve arthritis.

Yucca, along with devils claw, chaparral and other herbs are used in Grandma's Herbs Arth-Aid formula, as well as the herbal Energy and Over-Fifty formula.

In the 1970s, Dr. John Yale did some extensive studies on the yucca plant with surprising results. Seeds, even potato seeds that were planted after being treated with yucca root powder, gave a much higher yield than the average. Cattle whose feed was treated with the yucca product grew faster and reproduced more readily. Another study told a large old yucca plant that died. The prevalent wind in that area had scattered the yucca's remains down wind over quite a large area. It seems that all the plants in the wake of that old plant had grown larger and stronger for some reason. The study referred to an anti-stress factor given from this old yucca plant to those down wind and their new ability to collect and retain moisture and become healthier.

Not much is known about yucca, but what is known is good. Yucca, and hundreds of other little known-plants, are waiting for us to study them and use them so they can help us.

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