|Yucca gloriosa||Spanish Dagger/Bayonet; Adam's Needle; Palm Lily; Roman Candle|
Origin: USA from S Carolina to NE Florida
Photographed at Mountstewart Gardens, Co Down 2003.
This evergreen shrub grows to about 2-3 m in the British Isles; usually it is a single unbranched fleshy stem with a terminal crown of numerous stiff, fleshy leaves tipped with a hard spine. These leaves are around 70 cm long, 5-8 cm wide, grey-green. The tall-conical flowering spike appears in late summer, carrying numerous pendulous, creamy-white, cup-shaped flowers, sometimes tinged outside with crimson. Fruits are seed-cases, around 5 cm long, with tiny glossy seeds, 0.5 cm long.
Several other species of Yucca yield useful strong leaf-fibres for weaving; also used for rope-making by early European settlers in America, although as the fibre has a short staple, it has not become commercially significant.
Introduced about ?1550. Bean in his Trees & Shrubs gives the following fascinating history:
The word yucca has been misapplied to these plants from its original use in the Carib language as the name for the manihot or cassava plant.