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Yucca—Courtesy of the New Mexico Department of Development
Any of about 40 species of succulent plants (genus Yucca) of the agave family, native to southern North America. Most species lack a stem and have a rosette of stiff, sword-shaped leaves at the base and clusters of waxy white flowers. The Joshua tree (Y. brevifolia) has a stem more than 33 ft (10 m) high. Commonly cultivated as ornamentals for their unusual appearance and attractive flower clusters are the aptly named Spanish bayonet (Y. aloifolia), Spanish dagger (Y. gloriosa), and Adam's needle, or bear grass (Y. filamentosa). Yucca moths (genus Tegeticula) inhabit yucca bushes, and each moth species is adapted to a particular yucca species. The yucca can be fertilized by no other insect, and the moth can use no other plant to raise its larvae.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on yucca, visit Britannica.com.