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Plant Profile: Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

Also known as Spanish bayonet, spoon-leaf yucca, needle-palm, and silk-grass, Adam’s needle is a clump-forming evergreen perennial and a member of the asparagus family, Asperagaceae, that also includes agave, lily of the valley, and hosta.  It  is native to southeastern US from southeast Virginia south to Florida and west southwest Texas where it grows in a variety of habitats including rocky slopes, fields, and dunes.    The  spine-tipped, sword-like, gray green leaves are 1.5-2.5 long and are edged with curling fibers.  In early to mid summer, creamy white, 2″ long,  bell-shaped flowers appear in panicles that are 6-10′ tall but can be taller.  The flowers sometimes are flushed with reddish brown.  Adam’s needle is drought resistant and can add a dramatic architectural element to the garden, especially valuable in a xeriscape.   The genus name, Yucca, is from the Carib name for manihot or cassava, plants that are not related. The specific epithet, filamentosa, is the Latin word meaing furnished with a filament or thread and refers to the fibers on the margin of the leaves.

Type: Evergreen perennial

Bloom: Panicle of creamy-shite, bell-shaped, 2″ long flowers in early to mid summer

Size: 4-10′ x 3-5′

Light: Full sun; tolerates some shade

Soil: Average, medium moist-dry, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 4-10

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to cane borers, scale insects, and fungal leaf spot but rarely a problem.

Propagation: Rooted suckers can be separated in spring; root cuttings in winter.

Companion plants: Gives a desert look with cacti and succulents such as sedums, hens-and-chickens (Sempervivum spp.), spruge (Euphorbia spp.); also look good with a variety of shrubs such as junipers, broom (Genista sp), spireas, and barberries (Berberis spp.)

Outstanding Selections:

‘Bright Edge: (cream-colored marginal variegation)

‘Golden Sword’ (yellow variegation)

‘Variegata’ (Cream stripes)

‘Color Guard’ (bright yellow central stripe)