Soaptree yuccas are natives of southwestern North America. Soapy material in
the roots and trunks were used as soap. Its fibrous leaves were used for basket weaving.
Identification: These small trees are 4-15' (1.2-4.5 m) tall, with a thick brown trunk, sometimes branched, mostly covered in a skirt of dried leaves. Leaves are in dense whorls at the top(s) of the trunk(s). They are yellowish and leather-like, measuring 10-39" (25-100 cm) × ⅛-½" (5-13 mm) wide,
with wiry white filaments.
The flowers are white, bell-shaped, about 1-2" (3-6 cm) long. Flowers are on a spike that emerges well above the leaves. The fruits are capsules 1½-3" (4-8 cm) × ¾-1½" (2-4 cm).
See the Yucca page for a comparison with other yuccas.
Yucca elata at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert