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  • Yucca filamentosa L.
  • Yucca glauca
  • Liliaceae
  • Lily family

Common Names

herbsAdam's needle
herbsSpanish needle

Parts Usually Used

Roots for both

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Yucca filamentosa L.: A perennial, to 9 feet in flower. Leaves in a rosette; stiff, spine-tipped, oblong to lance-shaped, with fraying, twisted threads on the margins. Flowers whitish green bells on smooth branched stalks; June-September.

Yucca glauca: Blue-green perennial, 2-4 feet tall. Leaves in a rosette; stiff, sword-like; rounded on the back, margins rolled in. Flowers whitish bells; May-July.

Both species are recognized by their sword-shaped, stiff, sharp-tipped leaves. The bell-like flowers are in an erect spike.

Where Found

Yucca filamentosa L.: Sandy soils in southern New Jersey to Georgia. Cultivated elsewhere.

Yucca glauca: Dry soils. Iowa to Texas; Missouri to North Dakota.

Medicinal Properties

Anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, laxative, alterative in both cases

Biochemical Information

Saponins in both

Legends, Myths and Stories

The root is split lengthwise before drying (it should be used only after it has been dried). At one time it was considered an important source of phytosterols and used in the manufacturing of steroidal hormones.


Yucca filamentosa L., and Yucca glauca:

A sweet herb used for gout and beneficial in treatment of urethritis and prostatitis. A blood purifier . Reduces inflammation of the joints, helpful for arthritis, neuritis, neuralgia, and rheumatism.

Cut up in water to make a natural lather as a soap substitute, can add to shampoos, or can use alone to wash hair. Said to control dandruff and relieve baldness. (1 cup chopped root soaked in 2 cups of water). The roots can be chopped and soaked in water to extract a soapy substance the western Native Americans used for washing. The shoots of the plant can be double-boiled to produce a winelike liquid which was used by the Native Americans as a stimulating tonic.

Also, they poulticed root on inflammations, sores, skin diseases, used it to stop bleeding; in steam bath for sprains and broken limbs. Leaf juice used to make poison arrows. Pounded roots were put in water to stupefy corralled fish so they would float to the surface for easy harvest.

Some clinics in the Sonoran desert region of Arizona routinely prescribe yucca against arthritis, with impressive results. (These findings have been disputed)

Formulas or Dosages

1/4 oz. of dried root boiled in a pint of water for 15 minutes may be taken in 3-4 doses throughout the day. It has the ability of relieving pain for several days.

A good general arthritis formula is as follows:

  • Yucca root (6 parts)
  • Devil's claw (4 parts)
  • Black cohosh root (3 parts)
  • Prickly ash bark (2 parts)
  • Ginger root (2 parts)
  • Licorice root (2 parts)

Make into a standard decoction and take 1 cup 2-3 times daily.

The quantity of yucca root taken by itself is about 1/2 oz. per day.

How Sold



Occasionally there are some purgative side effects that may be accompanied by intestinal cramping. This can be prevented by adding as an antidote some ginger and prickly ash bark, which also will aid its antiarthritic properties. Long term use is said to slow absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, but these findings require further study.

Root compound (saponins) are toxic to lower life forms.

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