Wednesday's mystery is solved - probably!
On Wednesday - as a part of blogland's "Wordless Wednesday" - I posted several pictures of a plant that "sprouted" overnight in front of my house, asking if anyone knew the name of the plant.
There were loads of responses. Most people suggested that the plant is a yucca plant, although several commented they had never seen the right-angle or "elbow" growth from a yucca. Thanks to Lynne, Syd, Shey, Stephanie, Karen, Barb, Kaye, The Muse and Oldqueen44 for knowing their yucca plants.
I always thought the yucca was something that grew in desert areas, especially in the southwestern region of the U.S. - and I'm in hot, humid coastal South Carolina.
In the last two days, I've learned a lot about yuccas. They are used to make medicines, ropes, dental floss, baskets, sandals, belts, brushes, rugs, salads, drinks, soap, shampoo, cakes, brooms and more! The yucca is poisonous to rabbits.
Generally, most authorities believe it is part of the lily family, although some references point to the agave family as well. And it seems that it might be related to the tapioca as well.
It takes the yucca anywhere from 3 to 7 years to bloom, depending on the variety. Plants grow up to 20 feet tall, again depending on the variety.
There are about 40 varieties. One is the yucca filamentosa, also known as Adam's Needle. A very similar plant is known as the yucca flaccida. The yucca elata is called a soaptree. Another variety is the yucca banana.
And the Joshua tree is part of the yucca family. [from http://www.allrefer.com/: "The Joshua tree . . . is a picturesque treelike species of desert regions. Mormons crossing the California deserts are said to have so named it because the grotesquely angular branches looked like the outstretched arms of a Joshua leading them out of the wilderness."]
THE UNUSUAL NAME
There are varying opinions about the name of the plant. Here's information from WAYNE'S WORD Vol. 9 (No. 2) Summer 2000: "The name Yucca is derived from "yuca," a Carib Indian name for the cassava or tapioca plant. . . . Yucca is also the creole word for cassava."
Even so, the yucca and the yuca are from two different botanical families.
I DIDN'T MAKE THIS UP!
When I originally researched the yucca for this post, Wikipedia reported that yucca, in Spanish, means "raging vagina." When I checked back a week later - after someone questioned it - the Wikipedia article had been edited with this part deleted. I didn't make it up, don't know who originally wrote it as fact in Wikipedia or who deleted it. Anyway, I've been trying to figure out the relationship and why it might have been believeable. Maybe it has to do with this: another source says that a tea made from the boiled roots of the yucca soapweed was given to women to bring about menopause. [http://www.richfarmgarden.com/]
YUCCA AND VODKA: Drink Up!
There's even a recipe for a yucca drink on http://www.barflies.com/. I think this one is for a punch.
Ingredients: Lemons, Limes, 3 lb. (144 cl) Sugar, 1/2 Gal. (192 cl) Vodka, 8 lb. (384 cl) Ice
Recipe: Put the Vodka and the sugar into a container. Slice 10 lemons and 10 limes and add them to the Vodka. Mix for 10 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
ODDS 'N ENDS
Finally, a few odds 'n ends, just in case you're still reading this far down and would like to learn more:
Pollination - "Yucca plants are dependent on Yucca moths for pollination and Yucca moths can only lay their eggs in a Yucca plant's flower. The Yucca moth lays its eggs in the yucca plant at the same time pollinating it. The moth makes sure not to lay too many eggs in each flower to prevent the larva from eating all of the Yucca seeds. This is the Yucca plant's only means of pollination, as it cannot pollinate itself." http://www.wikipedia.com/
"Native Americans also used yucca plants for a variety of other non-medical purposes, including making sandals, belts, cloth, baskets, cords, and mats. Such uses can still be found today among Hopi, Papago, and Ute Indians.
The Zuni used a mixture of soap made from yucca sap and ground aster to wash newborn babies to stimulate hair growth. Navajos would tie a bunch of yucca fibers together and use it as a brush for cleaning metates.
The primary medical use of yucca is to treat arthritis and joint pain and inflammation. Native Americans used sap from the leaves in poultices or baths to treat skin lesions, sprains, inflammation, and bleeding.
Teas made from yucca mixed together with other herbs are still brewed by folk healers in northern New Mexico to treat asthma and headaches. Constituents of the yucca are used today to treat people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The plant's medical properties are found in saponins, precursors of cortisone, which prevent the release of toxins from the intestines that restrict normal cartilage formation. Saponins are produced naturally in the body by the adrenal glands. It is believed yucca works best for arthritis when taken over an extended period of time.
Yucca extract is used to treat a variety of other conditions, including migraine headaches, colitis, ulcers, wounds, gout, bursitis, hypertension (high blood pressure), and high LDL cholesterol (also called bad cholesterol). Liver, kidney, and gallbladder disorders are also treated with yucca extract.
More recently, researchers have found that resveratrol, a compound found in yucca extract as well as in red wine, inhibits the aggregation or clumping of blood platelets. This finding suggests that yucca extract may be useful in preventing blood clots.
A number of commercial uses for yucca extract have been found, including adding it to root beer, alcoholic beer, and cocktail mixers as a foaming agent. The bittersweet dark brown extract is also used as an additive in ice cream and other foods.
The extract . . . is also used as an additive in natural pet foods. It is reported to speed up bowel elimination, reduce fecal and urine odor, and improve digestion in dogs and cats." http://www.healthline.com/
If you read all of this, thanks! You'll know more about the yucca than the "average Joe." But, to be quite honest, some of this stuff sounds pretty yucky to me!