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Yucca is a genus of trees and perennial shrubs in the family Asparagaceae. It has 40 to 50 species that are known for their evergreen, sturdy and sword-shaped leaves and large panicles of whitish flowers. Yucca is native to arid parts of the Caribbean and America. It is normally found growing in rural gardens. When in bloom, the clusters of the pale flowers appear as floating apparitions.
Yuccas are grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Many of the species also have edible parts, including the fruits, flowers, seeds, flowering stems and, more rarely, the roots. References to yucca root as food is often confused with the similarly pronounced, however, botanically unrelated, yucca. Roots of soaptree yucca are high in saponins and are often used as a shampoo in Native American rituals. In the rural Appalachian areas, species such as the Yucca filamentosa are referred to as "meat hangers". The tough, fibrous leaves with sharp-spined tips were used to puncture meat and also knotted to form a loop in order to hang meat for salt curing or even in smoke houses.
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