Thursday, June 29, 2006

Yucca Stucka

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On my property, the scattered yuccas that live here with me are mostly in shady forest. I don't think that is their preferred zone, I'm sure full sun would be more to their liking, but they seem to do okay. They are one of those organisms, like the gopher tortoise, cactus, and the scrub jay that remind us of Florida's more desertlike environment during the last ice age.




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There are lots of yucca varieties out there. This is the native...Yucca filamentosa...he said nervously, not bothering to check his facts.
In "Florida's First Peoples" by Brown, yucca is mentioned as a source of fiber that was utilized by early Floridamericans. I found it curious that Pablo of RRJ noted that yuccas bloom in June there, when that is exactly when they start blooming here. We share a lot of plants, but usually his calendar of events is a month or two behind us. Not in this case though.


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Each leaf blade is tipped with a hardened needle sharp point. This native variety is not as intimidating as some of the other varieties in the plant nurseries. One type, called, "Spanish Bayonets" is loaded with blades that form an impenetrable cluster of points.

When we were kids, a new neighbor planted a row of these around their property...one can only assume it was to keep kids (us) from crisscrossing his new yard. My dad saw what was happening and asked New Neighbor not to plant them on our side. Neighbor complied and planted a ligustrum hedge instead. On the other side of his yard, he planted a barricade of wickedly sharp bayonets.

A while later, my childhood chum, Harry, is clowning around standing atop a galvanized trash can...next to the now salivating, Spanish Bayonets. Can you guess what happened next?

When Harry was painfully extracted from the bayonets, he looked like a connect the dots puzzle. Posted by Picasa

19 comments:

roger said...

ouch!!! nice post otherwise. i had no idea that fla was once desert.

Floridacracker said...

dpr,
during ice ages, when sealevel drops dramatically, FL expands, but the climate is drier, semi-desertlike. We still have ice-age remnant species hanging on in the drier habitats...those that haven't been bulldozed yet.
hey, are you switching monikers?

Thunder Dave said...

It's a shame they aren't Blue Agave plants, I could find a good use for them!

Hey, I just posted complete with pics!

Hurricane Teen said...

AHHHH!!! I HATE SPANISH BAYONETS!!!

robin andrea said...

One of our favorite restaurants in Santa Cruz served Central and South American cuisine. One of our favorite side-dishes there was yucca fries. The root of the plant was chopped into a large french-fry shape and then fried until soft inside and crispy outside. We bought yucca and tried it at home. Close, but not quite as yummy. Have you ever tried making yucca fries with any of your yuccas?

Yes, dpr is trying to switch monikers everywhere in blogland.

roger said...

fc, the mechanics of name switching have eluded me so far. it's all i can do to read my faves and keep up with comments at our blog. the siren song of outdoors is strong.

roger, the blogger formerly known as dpr.

Floridacracker said...

ThunderD,
Complete with worm..
Will check out post!

HurricaneT,
I know. Wickedly effective barrier.

Robin,
I have never tried that...sounds interesting. I almost posted, "I think parts are edible...", but I wasn't sure if I had imagined that. Ask your smart wife how she did it...

roger,
roger that roger.

Floridacracker said...

Robin,
Oh no, the "Ask your smart wife" part was supposed to be on Roger's comment...oops. Anyway, show him how.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

If you take the stalk of the yucca and gently and patiently pound it between two smooth rocks, all the while keeping the stalk wet, you will seperate the individual fibers of the yucca. If done carefully, you will end up with many long fibers all connected to the needle-sharp point. By tightly braiding the fibers, you now have an extremely strong cord, with an integral point attached. Native Americans used this technique to create "sewing cords", which could penetrate the tough hides used to make moccosins, etc.

The sappy solution that is created in the pounding process was used as a soap, similar to the amole plant.

Floridacracker said...

Hal,
Amazing. Thanks for the info. Thread with a ready made needle.

Mrs. S said...

Ouch!! Poor Harry! Those things hurt just to look at, I'm glad I don't have to figure out if I'm right or not first hand.

I don't think we have those here... and if my experiences with Holly bushes is any indication, it's probably best that we don't!! Sharp plants... they just don't like me.

Gin said...

If yucca would stay in one place, I'd put a plant or two beside house, but it seems to multiply and crop up in inconvenient places. FWIW, both the leaves and the roots of the yucca plant make lovely paper:
http://www.ginpetty.com/archives/2003/2003_06.htm#yucca

robin andrea said...

If you're not going to make thread from the plant (that's a great idea, btw), here's a recipe for the
yucca fries.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Did they use these in the Spanish-American War? Or just the war against kids....

Wayne said...

We have Y. filamentosa here too - I really like the flowers. Do you know the story of the yucca moth?

BTW - it's true about pockets of plants left in Florida during the last ice age, stranded in an environment where they're not really happy. I recall Florida Torreya, a yew, that is endangered - the climate is all wrong for it now and it gets all sorts of terrible diseases and insect pests, but transplants to North Carolina have done very well.

rick said...

I remember that a bunch of red dots all over his stomach and chest.He always was getting into something.Hard to believe he put 20 plus years into the Coast Guard.There were times I tought he would end up in jail or something.But he fooled me!The Scout on Dixie highway is just sitting there still no for sale sign.

Floridacracker said...

Ginn,
Thanks for the paper tip. I had not thought of that.

Robin,
Good link...we may have to branch out from onion rings around here.

Hoss,
Just the splendid little war against kids...

Wayne,
I don't know the yucca moth story, but I'm supposed to aren't I? Torreya is a good example. I had forgotten about it. I've never made it to the state park that protects it.

Rick,
I know...I'm glad Harry turned out okay. I thought it was kind of ironic (and funny) that he became a drug enforcer with the CG after his high school days :)
I drool over the scout each visit...

Wayne said...

Oh yes, FC - you must know the yucca moth story. The yucca moth *only* pollinates the yucca (at least supposedly), and so the moth and the yucca are very important to each other since only the yucca moth has the equipment to get down into the flowers.

While the yucca moth is pollinating it's also laying eggs in the yucca's ovaries, so the developing seeds are food for the larvae. But the neat thing is that the larvae only eat a portion of the seeds and leave the rest intact. It's an incredibly neat story.

Floridacracker said...

Wayne,
Thanks! I may check out some seed pods after the bloom...in a Wayne dissective sort of way.