Scientific: Yucca elata
Common: soap tree yucca
Family: Asparagaceae (subfamily Agavoideae)
Origin: Central Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas, and Coahuila and Chihuahua, Mexico

Pronounciation: YUK-ka e-LA-ta

Hardiness zones
USDA 6-11

Landscape Use: Xeric and desert landscape design themes, strong accent and/or focal point.

Form & Character: Arborescent (tree like), stiff, upright, and dry.

Growth Habit: Evergreen, woody perennial to upwards of 30 feet in height, sometimes branched. Soap tree yucca is rhizomatous.

Foliage/Texture: Narrow, linear gray to light green leaves to 4 feet, often shorter, finely serrate, and filamentaceous with often white margins, Leaves grow in variably loose to densely crowded clumps in a tuft at the top of the stem; medium fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: White flowers sometimes tinged with either green or pink on numerous, striking elongated spikes. Winged seeds on 3 inches long fruit.

Seasonal Color: Flowers in late spring to early summer (which is May in Phoenix).

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun

Soil: Prefers well drained, alkaline soils.

Watering: Apply infrequently water during summer. This yucca will show a strong positive growth response to urban irrigation.

Pruning: Typically none except to remove dead foliage (sometimes skinned like a palm).

Propagation: Difficult and variable by seed.

Disease and pests: None of note as long as the soil is well drained.

Additional comments: As far as yuccas go, soap tree yucca is one of largest, most fine textured yuccas and should be reserved for use only in large, dry landscape settings. Its roots are harvested, dried, and processed for use as a soaping agent or as a home remedy for alleviation of arthritic pain as a tea.

Soap tree yucca is an Arizona protected plant. Yucca elata var. verdiensis is found in central Arizona (along the Verde River drainage) at elevation from 2,000 to 6,000 feet. It is small, acaulescent, typically forming a basal clump.