The Mojave Yucca (Yucca Schidigera)

(Fig. 01)
Picture Notes: On 03/26/2013, I captured most of these Mojave Yuccas (Figs. 01 & 02) along the road leading to the Cottonwood Marina inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area east of Searchlight, Nevada.
(Fig. 02)
Description: The Mojave Yucca (Yucca schidigera), also known as the Spanish Dagger, is a flowering plant in the family Agavaceae. This small evergreen tree can grow 3 to 16 feet tall, with a dense crown of spirally arranged bayonet-like leaves on top of a conspicuous basal trunk.
(Fig. 03)
The leaves are narrow, linear, and spreading in all directions from the stem, and they are wide-based and have stiff, yellow-green blades 12" to 60" long and 1" to 1-1/2" wide.  They are also tipped with terminal spines and have coarse fibers along the margins, which Yucca whipplei lacks.  The cream-colored flowers (Fig. 05) appear in a long terminal cluster.  The individual flowers are large, pendent, bell shaped and occasionally have a purplish tinge.  The fruit (Fig. 03) is an oblong, elongate berry like capsule to 2" to 4" long with thick, obovoid seeds.  The bark is gray-brown, being covered with brown dead leaves near the top, becoming irregularly rough and scaly-to-ridged closer to the ground. Broad at their base, the leaves are long, concavo-convex, thick, very rigid, and yellow-green to blue-green in color.

(Fig. 04)
It is native to the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert of southeastern California, Baja California, southern Nevada and western Arizona. This yucca typically grows on dry rocky desert slopes and Creosote desert flats between 900-3600 feet in altitude, yet can be found up to 5,000 feet. They thrive in full sun and in soil with excellent drainage. It also needs no summer water. It is related to the Banana yucca (Y. baccata) (Fig. 04), which occurs in the same general area; hybrids between the two are sometimes found. In contrast, Banana Yucca tend to grow low to the ground on, at most, very short trunks, with leaves that are bluish. They both bloom from April to May.

The fibers of the leaves were used by Native Americans to make rope, sandals, and cloth. The flowers and fruit could be eaten and the black seeds were ground into a flour. The roots were used to make soap. Currently extracts from this plant are in animal feed and various herbal medications. Some reports claim that Native Americans washed their hair with yucca to fight dandruff and hair loss. Among the other maladies this yucca has been used to treat are headaches, bleeding, gonorrhea, arthritis and rheumatism. Also used as a natural deodorizer. Used in pet deodorizers.
(Fig. 05)