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Yucca Root is NOT Edible

January 15, 2012

I was recently at a local grocery store and I saw that they had a sign saying “yucca root” for sale. Someone had made a mistake and labeled this root as yucca when it was actually yuca with one “c”. Yuca is another name for cassava which is a potato-like root that is cultivated in tropical regions throughout the world. Yuca (cassava) and yucca (yucca louisans) are not the same plant. The root of yucca (yucca louisans) contains a high concentration of saponin. Saponin is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, lathering agent. In other words, it is soap. If you eat yucca root you will get sick as a dog.

I can’t help but wonder how many people saw that sign in the grocery store and thought, “Hey, I have yucca plants growing around my house. I think I’ll dig up a root and try it.”

So far as I know the only part of a yucca plant that is edible are the young flowers which I have read can be used in salads. I’ve never tried this personally so I can’t verify that this is true.

The yucca is an incredibly useful plant. You can use it to make fire starting tools, you can use the dried leaves for tinder, you can use the roots and leaves to make soap, you can use the leaves to make cordage, you can make yucca leaf baskets, you can make hats and sandals from yucca leaves, but, you CANNOT eat yucca. So don’t try it; you won’t like it.

  1. Amanda permalink

    Hi! I accidentally stumbled on this article and I don’t think it was well researched at all. People in South America eat Yucca roots on a daily basis and depending on how you cook them, it can be delicious. I was raised eating “Mandioca” (as we call it here in Brazil) and there are many ways of preparing a tasty dish using it, you can boil it and then fry it or even just boil it and eat it with butter, something that is not so healthy, but an AMAZING snack and one of my favorite things to steal from my mom while she was cooking, a little bit of mandioca mashed with butter is actual heaven on a plate. We also make little fried scones with chive and a ton of other tasty full meals with the root, it’s a shame people in the US haven’t caught on yet, it’s almost as great as potatoes!

    • Amanda,
      Yes the research is correct. The plant you were eating in Brazil is Manihot esculinta commonly called cassava and it is not a member of the genus Yucca . It is sometimes called yuca spelled with one C. This causes some confusion because people say oh they eat yucca all the time. But they don’t. They eat cassava which I believe I made pretty clear in the article.

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