Yucca is a hardy plant that grows in temperate, tropical, and subtropical areas. You can find any of its 40 species in the arid parts of Central and South America.
In the US, yuccas are abundant in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas.
This flower belongs to the agave subfamily, which is a branch of the asparagus family. Most of the yucca plants are dense little shrubs, but there are some stark exceptions.
An interesting variant is the Yucca brevifolia, which stands 33 feet high. You might be wondering now, what are yucca flowers good for?
The flowers of the yucca plant are quite fetching, and that’s why they’re often used for landscaping and as house decorations.
The Spanish dagger (Y. gloriosa), Spanish bayonet (Y. aloifolia), Mojave yucca (Y. schidigera), and Adam’s needle (Y. filamentosa) are common species in backyards.
The Y. glauca and the Y. filamentosa are also quite delicious, and many people find them a great addition to their local cuisine.
Yucca flowers are a wonderful addition to various sweet and savory dishes. You can eat them raw, baked, boiled, sauteed, or deep-fried.
Additionally, you can utilize the beautiful color and shape of the Yucca flower and use it as a garnish.
Here are some of the best ways to use yucca flowers.
Freshly bloomed flowers are often better tasting than aged ones. Yucca blossoms have a sweet taste that’s closest to asparagus. Some people say that it reminds them more of artichoke or arugula.
Wash the flowers thoroughly, or soak them in a bowl of water for an hour to get rid of any dirt or bug remains.
It’s best to use the petals only and discard the stamens, pistils, and center bulb. These parts are often bitter and harder to chew.
Sprinkle the petals around a dish of seasonal greens, and drizzle a suitable vinaigrette to amplify the taste. It’s best to use as few spices as possible to preserve the yucca’s taste.
Cooking the yucca flower is another great way to enjoy its taste and aroma. The petals are quite delicate, so they don’t need high heat or a lot of cooking.
You can dice a small onion, add a dash of salt and pepper, and toss them in a pan with extra virgin olive oil. As the onions turn golden brown, add the yucca petals and stir for five minutes, and serve as a warm side dish.
Stir fries are great snacks, lunches, or dinners. Adding yucca flowers is a great way to add variety to your traditional stir fries.
Yucca petals go particularly well with artichoke, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
You can use the lovely-looking yucca flowers as garniture for your cakes, cocktails, salads, and soup.
The white color of this flower makes it an amazing and festive decoration for party foods.
Mexican cuisine is famous for incorporating local herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables into delicious foods. The yucca flower is among the common additions to omelets and frittatas.
Most vegetables have an optimal time for picking. That’s when the fruit, root, stem, or flower yields its best taste and texture.
Additionally, yucca flowers are aromatic colorful plants, which is quite appealing to garden bugs.
They’re also constantly under the elements, so it’s necessary to do some cleaning before tossing a few yucca petals into your salad.
Here are some of our tried and true tips for picking the right flowers, and making sure that they’re perfect for your various dishes.
- There are around 60 different types of yucca flowers, so make sure that you can identify the plant and verify that it’s actually a yucca. Remember that not all wildflowers can go into your kitchen.
- The best time to harvest a yucca flower is around the time it’s blossoming. That’s when the taste and aroma are at their best. It’s also when the petals aren’t too chewy.
- Before harvesting a ton of yucca flowers, take a single petal, wash it, and taste it. Some flowers are more on the bitter side, and they might not be to your liking.
- At this point, you can also check your tolerance to raw yucca flowers. Wait for half an hour to see if these blossoms don’t sit too well with you. A scratchy throat or an upset stomach means that you can forgo the yuccas.
- Yucca flowers are chummy-chummy with moths. The bugs pollinate the yuccas, and in return, they get generous sips of its delicious nectar.
This means that the bugs could also take the liberty of leaving their offspring on the flowers. A good wash is needed to make sure that you wouldn’t end up eating a larva.
- If you have a yucca plant in your garden, try to keep it free from pesticides. Bugs might find their way to your plant, but you can utilize organic methods to ward them off.
- Finally, it’s worth noting that yucca blossoms and flowers store their starch in a carbohydrate compound called saponin. This is one of the ingredients of natural soap, so it’s not a big surprise that it could cause an itchy throat or a groggy stomach.
To avoid or reduce the effects of saponin, you can boil or bake the yucca petals.
Yucca roots are incredibly rich in nutrients, fiber, and minerals. Medicinal uses of yucca root are still limited, as further studies need to be made for verifying its benefits.
However, this hasn’t stopped its availability as a food supplement. It’s also widely used as a remedy for various ailments.
The pulpy root also contains generous amounts of saponin, which is why it was traditionally used for cleaning in its mashed form.
The benefits of yucca root include the following.
- The high content of antioxidants in yucca roots makes it an effective inhibitor of cell mutations. It’s also effective in repairing the damages caused by free radicals.
- Yucca root is high in vitamin C, which strengthens the body’s natural immunity and decreases recovery time post-infection.
- Yucca extracts are used in tablet form to relieve the symptoms of arthritis. It’s known to reduce inflammation and pain.
- The root extract is also incorporated into various types of medicated shampoos, soaps, and cleansing lotions. It’s easy on the skin, and it helps in curing dandruff, skin infections, and hair fall.
- Recent studies show that yucca extract can be helpful in treating some autoimmune diseases, heart diseases, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Yucca extract is also used to control metabolic disturbances and regulate blood sugar. Some doctors advise their diabetic patients to use it for managing their illness, but further studies are needed to support this.
Yucca plants are quite beneficial. Locals have traditionally used every part of it in their food, medicine, cleaning products, and even in making baskets and footwear.
Yucca flowers and blossoms are particularly attractive as seasonal foods or ornaments. They have a mild fruity scent and flavor that makes them perfect in salads, side dishes, and garnish.
They’re also perfect as landscaping plants that survive the arid hot weather of the south.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.