South Dakota Native Plant Research
Agavaceae : Yucca glauca

Agavaceae : Yucca glauca


Download Seed: The seed of Yucca is flat, black, and 7-10 mm in diameter. (60 KB)

Download Seedling: Two month old yucca seedling grown in the research greenhouse at SDSU. (81 KB)

Download Mature plant in flower (1.5 MB)

Download Vegetative: The leaves of yucca are arranged spirally. (3.4 MB)

Download Fruiting: he green fruit of yucca is a capsule that dries brown. (749 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Soapweed Yucca

Native American Name

Lakota: hupȟéstol


Yucca glauca is an acaulescent, semi-woody perennial plant arising from a thick underground caudex, growing singly or in clumps. The green leaves are simple, waxy, flat to rolled 40-70 cm long and 0.5-1.5 cm wide, with margins that are greenish white and becoming fibrous. The inflorescence is a raceme on a long stalk 1-1.5 m tall, usually simple but occasionally branched. The flowers are globose to campanulate with 6 thick perianth segments that look similar, greenish white and tinged with purple, 3.5-5.5 cm long and 2.3-3 cm wide. The stamens are 1-2 cm long and the 3-parted pistil has styles 8-12 mm long atop ovaries that are 3-3.5 cm in length. The fruit is a capsule 4.5-6 cm long and contains numerous seeds that are 7-10 mm in diameter. Yucca blooms in May, June and July on plains, prairies and occasionally in open coniferous forests in the western and southern portions of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Soapweed provides food and nesting materials for small mammals, birds and reptiles. The flowers attract butterflies and some bees but are pollinated by the yucca moth. This plant contains saponins that can be extracted by peeling the root, pounding and mixing with water to create suds that can be used to wash hair, clothing, and blankets, thus giving it its common name.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seeds in September after capsules turn grayish brown.

Germination: Seeds collected in the fall can be sown in the following spring.

Vegetative Propagation: Root cuttings taken in the winter.

Soils: Well drained sandy or rocky soils.

Light: Full sun

Water: Dry

Agavaceae : Yucca glauca