The Banana Yucca (also known as Datil Yucca) is a native of the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico and can also be found in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. The plant got its name due to the shape of its fleshy fruits which are somewhat banana-like in appearance. The leaves are thick, fleshy, and dagger-like. The name ‘baccata’ comes from the Latin word for ‘bearing berries’. The fibrous leaves were once used to make baskets, mats, cloth, ropes and even sandals. The flowers and fruit were eaten raw, steamed or sauteed. Members of the Paiute tribe dried the fruit for use in the winter. The roots and leaves have been used in treatment of inflammation and arthritis by the Navajos. The root was also pounded and soaked in water to be used as shampoo. Additionally, the Navajos used the seeds to dye yarn. At maturity, a typical Banana Yucca plant can reach a maximum height of 4′ at 20 years of age.
Growing Information: Sow your seeds at a depth of 1/8″ in a commercial cactus potting mixture. Many growers prefer to set the pot in a dish of water, allowing the water to wick up through the soil. Some research suggests that keeping the seeds at high temperatures (around 90 degrees F) for about 5 minutes before planting will increase germination rates. Ideal germination temperature is roughly 64-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep moist throughout germination, but allow the soil to dry out after sprouting. Optimal daylight is 10 hours per day. Research also suggest that seedlings will grow best if subjected to 2 month of cold temperatures during the winter.
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