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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Yucca brevifolia – Joshua Tree (plant)

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Yucca brevifolia is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua tree, yucca palm, tree yucca, and palm tree yucca. This monocotyledonous tree is native to the arid Southwestern United States, specifically California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and to northwestern Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, and Sonora). It is confined mostly to the Mojave Desert between 400 and 1,800 m.

The name “Joshua tree” is commonly said to have been given by a group of Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century: The tree’s role in guiding them through the desert combined with its unique shape reminded them of a biblical story in which Joshua keeps his hands reached out for an extended period of time to guide the Israelites in their conquest of Canaan (From Wikipedia).

Cahuilla Native Americans, who have lived in the Southwestern United States for generations, identify this plant as a valuable resource and call it hunuvat chiy’a or humwichawa. Their ancestors used the leaves of Y. brevifolia to weave sandals and baskets, in addition to harvesting the seeds and flower buds for meals. Native Americans also used the reddish roots to make dye. Yucca tree roots have saponin glycosides.

Care and Cultivation of Yucca brevifolia

Yucca brevifolia like a full sun position with a well drained soil. Drought hardy perennial to 15m. Probably best kept in a pot as a beautiful succulent specimen.

1 plant


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