Adam’s Needle; Yucca filamentosa
Seeking a tough, low maintenance, eye-catching garden specimen? Look no further than our common yucca. Yucca filamentosa, otherwise known as Adam’s Needle or common yucca, is a member of the Agavaceae family, which includes other well-known arid-loving plants such as agave and Joshua tree. Adam’s needle can be found growing naturally in Florida’s scrub and scrubby flatwoods. This native is highly drought and salt tolerant, prefers full sun to part shade and well-drained sandy to loamy soils. Yuccas need little to no irrigation (once established), fertilizer, pruning, or spraying and can withstand strong winds and cold weather.
Adam’s needle is a slow-growing evergreen with sharp-tipped, sword-shaped leaves. One brush against it and you’ll discover how apt its common name truly is! Due to the sharp spines at its leaf tips, it’s a good idea to locate the plant 3 to 4 feet away from the edge of a walkway, or use the spines to your advantage for safety and plant as a deterrent under windows.
Of the over 20 species of yucca, three or four are considered native to Florida: Yucca filamentosa (Adams needle),Yucca aloifolia (Spanish bayonet), and Yucca gloriosa (moundlily yucca). Some taxonomist believe Yucca recurvifolia is the same as Y. gloriosa, but others consider it a separate species. Yucca filamentosa can be easily distinguished from other yucca species by the white, thready filaments along the leaf margins (hence the specific epithet filamentosa).
While the species has attractive bluish-green foliage, several variegated species are available that can add a unique punch to the landscape (in more ways than one!). Among the most popular are ‘Bright Edge’, which boasts gold leaf margins around a green center, and ‘Variegata’, with white margins around a green center. ‘Color Guard’ and ‘Gold Edge’ are hybrid yuccas with gold leaf centers and thin yellow leaf margins.
Yuccas compact size, striking texture and pendulous cream-colored flower spike make it an ideal specimen for the landscape. It even provides food and cover for wildlife and serves as a larval host plant for the yucca giant skipper and cofaqui giant skipper. So long as its cultural requirements are met, no serious pests affect this plant, contributing to its ease of care and Florida-Friendly nature.