Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata)

I am rich in Banana Yucca plants.  This is quintessential First Nation food in the Southwest US and it is throughout my property, especially on the open dry hillside.

I have not eaten the fruit but I have collected the seed and put it out where I might get more.  The fruit panicles look a bit like a banana bunch and do not bloom every year.

In the morning I plan to collect more seed and put them out all along the dry gash in hopes of more plants.  My first year here I transplanted one Banana Yucca.  It  transplanted well, so I will keep an eye out for offsets to plant.

Banana Yuccas feed mule deer, birds, and Yucca Moths, their only natural pollinator.  The Moth pollinates the flowers and lays it’s eggs inside.  As the fruits develop the larvae eat the seeds.  They make cocoons underground and do it all again the next bloom cycle.

Banana Yucca is a striking plant grown in other countries but will not fruit without its specific Moth for fertilization. If you want you can carefully hand pollinate each bloom.

I have both Moths and Yucca and will not mess with hand pollination… I prefer to leave these things to my Yucca Moth cohorts.  There are many laborers in a Circular Economy and this pair is forever joined as they have been for millenia.  Killing the laborers of our fields is scary foolish since who wants to find out if we can kill all pollinator species and do pollination ourselves?  Suicide pact a la Monsanto.

The fruit is seeded, then roasted or baked, and pulped.  It can be eaten fresh or stored dried.  I have read that it tastes much like a squash and can make a good pie filling.  Others dislike the flavor.  I won’t know until next year.

This particular Yucca doesn’t bloom every year but it does rebloom.

The roots contain saponin used for soap and shampoo before lye soap and plant saponin is still used by some people.  The root is large and makes quite a bit of soap, so my worry about killing them for soap is probably unfounded.

Yucca is New Mexico’s state flower and is a flashy large soft white panicle.  The flowers can be cooked and eaten.

I plan to increase both Yucca and Prickly Pear in the fairly bare and open bulldozer gash on one side of my acreage.  It will be 60+ years before it reforests and although it now looks prettier with wildflower blooms, these two hardy souls are going to be my best bet for current food production in that part of my Food Forest.

Repairing bulldozer damage is a difficult task in this harsh climate where growth is slow.  I have done some amelioration with stone pockets and wildflowers.  It has the basics of its mature self now and will now produce fruits to support my life, mule deer and birds.  It also makes cordage and baskets.

Yucca is so prevalent here that I wonder if anyone local eats it.  I had intended to try it this summer but it was one of many things that didn’t happen.

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About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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One Response to Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata)

  1. Helen says:

    Do you have a photo of the yucca? I can’t quite envisage what the blooms look like.

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