Category: Medicines - plant based
Introduction and description
Yucca baccata (datil yucca or banana yucca) is a species of yucca. The species gets its common name "banana yucca" from its banana-shaped fruit. The specific epithet "baccata" means "with berries." Banana yucca is closely related to the Mojave yucca (Y. schidigera), with which it is interspersed where their ranges overlap; hybrids between them occur. Yucca baccata has been divided into three subspecies:
- Yucca baccata ssp. baccata—Datil Yucca, Banana Yucca
- Yucca baccata ssp. thornberi (McKelvey) Hochstätter—Thornber's Yucca
- Yucca baccata ssp. vespertina (McKelvey) Hochstätter—Mohave Datil Yucca
Yucca baccata occurs in a large area of the North American deserts and exhibits much variation across its range. Yucca baccata specimens from the higher, mountainous regions of the Rocky Mountains is winter hardy and tolerates extreme conditions.
Yucca baccata is native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, from southeastern California north to Utah, east to western Texas and south to Sonora and Chihuahua. It is also reported in the wild in Colombia.
The plant is known from the Great Basin, the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts, in the states of Utah, California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States, and the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. It can be found in several habitat types, including Pinyon-Juniper, Sagebrush, and Ponderosa pine colonies at elevations generally between 1,500 and 2,500 meters.
It can be found among Sclerocactus, Pediocactus, Navajoa, and Toumeya species.
Yucca baccata is recognized by having leaves 30–100 cm long with more of a blue-green colour, and short or nonexistent trunks.
It flowers in the spring, starting in April to July depending on locality (altitude), and the flowers range from 5 to 13 cm long, white to cream with purple shades. The flower stalk is not especially tall, typically 1–1.5 meters.
The seeds are rough, black, wingless, 3–8 mm long and wide, 1–2 mm thick; they ripen in 6–8 weeks. The indehiscent fleshy fruit is sweet, 8–18 cm long and 6 cm across, and cylindrical.
The fruits are edible and the Paiutes dried the fruits for use during the winter. The medicinal properties are only now being explored, but they look very promising. An up-to-date analysis from Dr Duke's database is available if you go to his site. An extract is shown below.
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing SELENIUM 020550
- Dr Duke’s list of Chemicals with activities for Yucca baccata (Agavaceae) - Spanish Bayonet; Yucca; Blue Yucca; Banana Yucca 020863
- Marked antigiardial activity of Yucca baccata extracts: a potential natural alternative for treating protozoan infections 020864