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Agavaceae

Yucca arkansana Trel.

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Species Parent: Yucca Status: Invalid Reason: unverified

Common Names:

  • ARKANSAS YUCCA - English, United States of America
  • SOAPWEED - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Diagnosis: Leaves 20–60(–70) cm long, 10–25 mm wide, the margins at first white, papery with curly fibers; inflorescence glabrous; perianth 32–65 mm long, greenish white, globose; capsules ca. 4–7 cm long.

Other

Notes: Rocky limestone or sandy soils, prairies and hillsides; Pineywoods and Gulf Prairies and Marshes w to Rolling Plains and e Edwards Plateau; AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX. Mar–mid-May (this is the earliest bloomer of the dry-fruited Yuccas in Texas—K. Clary, pers. comm.). [Y. angustissima Engelm. ex Trel. var. mollis Engelm.] The roots, containing saponins, were used as a soap by both Native Americans and pioneers and the seeds were eaten raw, roasted, or ground into a flour (Yatskievych 1999). DNA evidence (Clary 1997) suggests that this species is related to Y. louisianensis. (arkansana: of Arkansas)

Hybrids of Y. arkansana and Y. pallida have been found on limestone in Dallas (McKelvey 1947), to the w of East TX at Glen Rose in Somervell Co. (Shinners 1958), and recently in Tarrant County at Tandy Hills Park (BRIT). This latter population of hundreds of individuals over a number of acres is quite variable, with individuals ranging from much like typical Y. arkansana to those much like Y. pallida as well as a full spectrum of intermediates. The plants vary from having leaves with curly fibers on the margins to not so, from having leaf margins white to yellowish, and from having inflorescences branched to sparsely branched or unbranched. In general, the plants are from 1–1.5 m tall.