Monthly Archives: July 2014

Yucca, soapweed or Spanish bayonet

photo of yucca plant
This plant grows in sunny places all over Colorado. It was important to the Indians because its sturdy leaves were woven to make sandals, mats and baskets. The sharp tips and strong fibers were also useful for piercing meat and hanging it to dry.

When rubbed with water, yucca roots make soap and shampoo. Native Americans bathed often in streams and always prepared for ceremonies by cleaning thoroughly with soapweed or yucca roots.

Yucca seeds served as a mild laxative when early people needed to clear their digestive system. The fruit was harvested and eaten by Ute Indians.

Dried yucca leaves have fibers which ignite easily. They were saved for fire starters when Indians were dependent on friction between sticks and rocks.

The next time you swat at an annoying Pronuba moth remember that yucca plants can only be pollinated by this insect while its cream-colored flowers are in bloom.