966 Yucca elephantipesCommon Names: spineless yucca, giant yucca Family: Agavaceae (agave Family)
Spineless or giant yucca is true to both its names: Its leaves are pliable and lack the sharp spines on the tips that are so characteristic of most yuccas, and this is one big yucca, getting up to 30 ft (9.1 m) tall. With age the trunk becomes rough and thick, and when mature it develops a swollen base and often branches a few feet off the ground. The leaves, which grow in a spiral rosette are shiny green, to 4 ft (1.2 m) long and about 3 in (7.6 cm) wide with serrated margins. Like other yuccas, this one has white bell shaped flowers borne on tall stalks above the foliage in summer. The selection, 'Variegata' has leaves with creamy yellow margins.
Spineless yucca, Yucca elephantipes, grows in arid regions of southern Mexico and Central America. It is a popular landscape plant in South Florida.
CultureThis yucca is easy to grow in any well drained soil, acidic or alkaline, and it is moderately tolerant of salt spray and salty soils. Light: Spineless yucca tolerates full sun to shade. Moisture: Spineless yucca is highly tolerant of drought. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. Propagation: Propagate yuccas from seeds or cuttings. Unlike some species, this yucca does not die after flowering.
Spineless yucca is the tallest of the yuccas, and is often used as a framing specimen at the side of a building or along a walkway. It makes a striking presence in large landscapes, but may be too much for a small yard. Since they lack the sharp spines of other yuccas, spineless yuccas are harmless and can be used where most others cannot. They are grown in containers and sometimes seen in indoor malls. Use this handsome tropical looking yucca as an accent in a gravelly succulent garden, but realize it will get large. The flower petals are edible.
There are some 40 species of yuccas, all from North and Central America. Yuccas require a specific moth for pollination, and if the right moth isn't around, you won't see fruit develop even though the plant produces flowers.
This species is apparently in the midst of a name change. The official name is now Yucca guatemalensis and Y. elephantipes is now a synonym as is an even older name, Y. gigantea. Floridata will keep the old name for a while until we have a better way to manage botanical synonyms in our database.
Steve Christman 12/16/02; updated 2/19/04