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Yucca (glauca)

Richard L. Wynia
USDA NRCS - Manhattan Plant Materials Center
3800 S. 20th Street
Manhattan, Kansas 66502-9535
(785) 539-8761
(785) 539-6928 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Agavaceae
Family Common Name: Century-plant
Scientific Name: Yucca glauca
Common Name: Yucca OR Small Soapweed OR Beargrass OR Soap Root
General Distribution: Grows best in well-drained soils, on xeric sites in open, sunny exposures. Found on upland prairies, plains, sandyblowouts, and hillsides (often in limestone soils).
Propagation Goal: seeds
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Propagules (seeds, cuttings, poles, etc.)
Time To Grow: 0
Propagule Processing: EASE OF COLLECTION: Seed capsules are dehiscent and should be collected just before or at the time capsules open. Generally picked from the plant by hand.
METHOD OF CLEANING: Seed is easily extracted when capsules are dry. Capsules can be run through a tumbler, revolving box, or drum with screen sides that allows the seeds to fall out. Chaff and other capsule material can be sifted out quite easily.
TYPE OF MATERIAL COLLECTED FOR PROPAGATION: Seed, rhizomes, roots, and stems.
PROPAGATION METHOD: Seed, stem cuttings, offset division, rhizome division, and root cuttings. Germination tests have been run at temperatures between 82-90§F, with the majority of samples tested ranging from 80%-90%. Root cuttings, covered by four inches of soil, are effective for propagation.
McCleary and Wagner (1973) investigated the germination of 6 Yucca species including Y. glauca. All species germinated readily at 20-25§C without pretreatment.
NUMBER OF SEEDS PER POUND: Clean seeds average 22,680 per pound.
PERCENT GERMINATION: Can vary from 45%-98% depending on seed quality.
Pre-Planting Treatments: PRETREATMENT USED: There is some evidence that yuccas exhibit some degree of hard-seededness. Germination periods can be reduced by soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours at room temperature, or by mechanical scarification or removal of the hard seed coat at the hilum end.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
METHOD OF GROWING: Field germination usually begins in 1 to 2 weeks under optimum conditions, but may continue for 2 to 3 years due to hard seed coat. Seedlings in the field should be mulched the first winter if there is danger of frost. Seedlings are ready for transplanting during the second season.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: SEED MATURITY DATE: Seed capsules ripen from mid-July to late September.

STORAGE REQUIREMENTS: Seeds have been satisfactorily stored dry at room temperature.

ESTIMATED PROPAGULE STORAGE POTENTIAL: Unknown. Probably several years under cold, dry storage regime.
Other Comments: RE-ESTABLISHMENT TECHNIQUES: Few nurseries raise yucca from seed. Most landscape plants transplanted from field or vegetatively propagated.

Container grown seedlings should be protected from frost the first winter.
References: Alexander, R.R. and F.W. Pond. 1948. In Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States. USDA, Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook No. 450. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1974.

Barr, C.A. 1983. Jewels of the Plains. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Johnson, J.R. and J.T. Nichols. 1970. Plants of South Dakota Grasslands. Ag. Exper. Sta. Bulletin 566. Brookings: South Dakota State University.

Kindscher, K. 1992. Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

McCleary, J.A. and K.A. Wagner. 1973. Comparative germination and early growth studies of six species of the genus Yucca. American Midland Naturalist 90:503-508.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture. 1979. Nebraska Weeds. Lincoln: State of Nebraska, Weed Division.

Runkel, S.T. and D.M. Roosa. 1989. Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie. Ames, Iowa:
Iowa State Univniverstiy Press.

Smith, R.C. 1989. Yucca glauca. American Nurseryman, Aug. 1:126.


Wynia, Richard. 2001. Propagation protocol for production of Propagules (seeds, cuttings, poles, etc.) Yucca glauca seeds USDA NRCS - Manhattan Plant Materials Center Manhattan, Kansas. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/09/19). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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