The first Banana Yucca blooming is on my neighbor’s property.
It is in a south facing protected spot. I may get blooms in June. Banana Yucca is a drop dead beautiful plant and one of the most useful natives.
The blossoms are edible, but have saponins, as does the whole plant, like beans, you get the saponins out by boiling 10 minutes. I have not eaten the flowers, but have considered bathing with them. Nice smelling deluxe shampoo is what I say. I wonder if I can make a custom perfume from it. So far I passed on playing with the flowers because I wanted seeds. I have distributed the seeds all over my alpine rock garden, hoping to at least triple my current crop. The fruit is large and sweet, and can be turned into long-storing cakes. My rock garden is the perfect spot for these wonders. I had about 20 of them already, and see babies coming up. Delayed gratification.
The fruit looks like a big banana, and is very sweet. Unless fully processed into dry blocks, it reminds me of dates. I did a taste test before deciding to expand my crop. The plant only blooms every few years, and the stem that blooms dies back. The plant puts out new sets that bloom in their turn.
For soap, the whole plant works, but the root works best. You smash it with a rock or hammer then soak in cold water. Suds right up. I played with one root when I transplanted a small offshoot. The transplant worked well even without the chunk of root I stole in the process. For scent, I like the flowers, and may experiment with preserving them some way.
The root is full of soap! You can use it, dry in the shade, and use it a couple more times. Well baked, it is edible.
The seeds are also edible, but I didn’t find any information about oil content. I have other oil producers, so no matter, but they are large and easy to harvest, all sitting at waist height in large pods.
The dried bloom stalk kindles at a very low temperature and can be used as a bow and drill firestarter. I haven’t tried this but have collected last year’s bloom stalks. Good kindling.
Most of the non food uses revolve around the leaf fibers, which turned into rope, sandals, mats, and cloth. Two methods to remove fiber include pounding and soaking in a mild lye water solution. The leaves are turned into baskets; and dried leaves can be boiled with pinyon gum, dried, powdered, water is then added and baskets are waterproofed inside and out. All of the plants have dried leaves and I might collect enough this summer to play with basket weaving.
Amazing… Brer Rabbit does not eat my Banana Yucca crop! It is only pollinated by the Yucca Moth, so even though it has been planted all over the world for its beauty, it must be hand pollinated to bear fruit and seed.
As a medicinal, not many uses, but it is a folk remedy to cure baldness due steroidal saponins. Maybe so! I read a recipe for a syrup made by boiling the root for a long time; however, saponins are broken down by heat, so I imagine just maceration the root in cold water is your best bet on this one.
As I mentioned earlier about bean soaking water, Banana Yucca soaking water is great for watering dry plants and as a good starter for transplants.
I love Banana Yucca and 60 of them sounds about right to me, greedy thing that I am. Manna from heaven.