Home Help Glossary About
Uses Name Characteristics


Yucca spp.

Family: Agavaceae or Liliaceae

  • native to Mexico and the Southwest United States
  • also found in the Eastern United States and the West Indies
Yucca Plant
  • shrub or small tree
  • covered with live green leaves
  • usually dead brown leaves are seen on lower portion
  • woody plants related to lilies
  • sword-shaped and pointed
  • sharp brown tips
  • approximately 30-90 cm or 1-3 feet long
  • covered in numerous tiny marginal teeth
Yucca Leaves
  • showy and white
  • 1-2 inches long
  • grow in prominent and erect clusters
  • green to black
  • 3-4 inches long
  • somewhat leathery

From the yucca leaf came fibers that were either twisted or plaited together to make cordage. Leaves were soaked in water, then pounded with stones to separate the long fibers. Sometimes human or animal hair or even bird plumage was added to the strands, which were twisted into string or ropes. These were used for belts, rope ladders, fishnets and sandals. The fibers were also used for mats and clothing and were incorporated into baskets.

The leaves were also utilized as paintbrushes by the Southwest Indians. Women chewed the leaf tip to a fine fringe which created an excellent paintbrush to use in decorating pottery.

From the roots comes shampoo, which has been used both prehistorically and historically. The dry roots were pounded by the Indians then whisked into cold water to create suds. The saponin-rich roots create a soaplike lather which can be used in cleaning.

In more recent times, Yucca-Dew Shampoo was a commercial product that utilized the sudsing agent of a yucca plant. Shasta Rootbeer contains yucca on its list of ingredients; the yucca ingredient creates the soda's white, foamy head.

Yucca Fibers

Home Help Glossary About