Ajuntament de Barcelona

Yucca guatemalensis

Mossèn Costa i Llobera Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Iuca de pota d'elefant
    Spanish name: 
    Yuca de Guatemala
    English name: 
    Giant yucca
    Botanical synonyms: 
    Yucca elephantipes
    Species characteristics
    Mexico and Guatemala
    Dry forests to a height of 1,000 m

    Perennial plant up to 10 m tall. The succulent, simple or ramified, rough stems have a very characteristic look, resembling elephant's legs: wide on the base and with grey marks.

    The fibrous leaves, on the stems' tips, are elongated (0.5-1.2 m long and 5-7 cm wide) and sharp, with slightly jagged margins and a very acute tip (but it is not sharp, because it has not ending prickle). The upper side is bright dark green.

    The bell-shaped white or cream flowers, about 4 cm long, appear into dense panicles (bunched inflorescences where the axis ramifies into new bunches).

    The ovoid fruit is very dry and black.

    Flowering time: 
    Fruiting time: 
    Uses and properties: 

    This Yucca is grown mostly as a decoration plant. It lives well in the exterior of drained soils and in warm areas with incidental freeze such as Barcelona.

    In the area of origin, the leaves are used to produce textiles and baskets. Flowers and young shoots are eaten as vegetables.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name Yucca guatemalensis consists of the genus name Yucca, from the Spanish yuca, “yucca”, very probably from the Taino (extinct language that was spoken in Haiti), and the Latin term guatemalensis, “Guatemalan”. The term elephantipes, with which the species is also known in the name Yucca elephantipes, comes from the Latin words elephantus, “elephant”, and pes, “foot”, and alludes the appearance of the stems, always widenned at the base and with grey stains resembling the elephants' legs.

    The plant flower (izote in Spanish) is the national flower of El Salvador.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001