Adam's needle looks a little like a small palm but is actually more closely related to the lilies. It features a basal rosette of rigid, sword-shaped, spine-tipped green leaves 30 inches long and 4 inches wide. The margins of the leaves are decorated with long curly threads or "filaments" that peel back as the leaf grows; eventually dropping off on older leaves. Leaves form a foliage clump of 2-3’ tall.
In late spring, a flowering stalk rises from the center of each rosette, typically 5 to 8 feet tall, but infrequently to 12’ tall, (taller in warm climates, shorter where winters are cold) bearing long terminal panicles of nodding 2 inch bell-shaped creamy white flowers. Fruits are elliptical dehiscent capsules.
The plant dies after flowering and fruiting but produces lateral buds that start new plants around the edges of the original plant. The flowers of many yucca species are edible and used raw in salads or cooked. Those from Adam's needle are said to taste like Belgian endive.
Yucca is a Caribbean name for the cassava plant, which originally was named Yucca gloriosa. In wet years, when many yuccas bloom over the landscape, they resemble large snowy-white candles; hence, the plants may be called by yet another name, "Our Lord's candles." Unlike agaves, with which yuccas are often confused, yuccas bloom each year (more or less), while agaves bloom only once.
Other Names: Adam's needle, Spanish bayonet, Needle palm Zone: 5 to 10 Growth Rate: Slow Plant Type: Broadleaf evergreen Family: Agavaceae Native Range: United States Height: 4 to 8 feet Spread: 2 to 3 feet Bloom Time: June - July Bloom Color: Creamy white Flower/Fruit: Bell-shaped flowers are 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches. Edible fruits are large, 4 to 9 inches long pods. Sun: Full Sun Fall Color: Evergreen Drought tolerance: High Water: Dry to Medium Maintenance: Low Site Requirements/ Soil Tolerances: Easily grown in dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of poor, dry, sandy soils.
Uses: Borders, foundations, dry garden areas, dry slopes. Adds architectural height. Excellent in rock gardens and as an accent among other perennials.