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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.

  2. They are edible if you clean them properly. Believe me, I’m from Brazil and we all eat it lol but we call it mandioca

    • Please see the response to comment above. What you are eating in Brazil is not a member of the genius yucca. Yuca is a nick-name for the plant you are eating. That’s the point of the article.

  3. Read First permalink

    Lol @ idiots who don’t read haha

  4. Viviane Viana permalink

    This is not true, yuca root (cassava) and its derivatives (like tapioca); are very tasty and healthy food option. You can fry, cook or roast it…

    • Viviane,
      Please read the post and the comments. Your comment indicates that there is no way that you read the post. Yuca (spelled with one C) is a nick-name for cassava. Cassava is not the same as yucca (spelled with two C’s). Totally different genus.

  5. Fern permalink

    Yes you are right when you said they made a mistake and confounded YuCa (Cassava-Manihot) and YuCCa (native american succulent root). Yes YuCa is eaten more commonly as a food staple (sold as a whole root) whereas YuCCa is mainly used like a herbal medicine (sold cut and sifted). Here is: Yucca Root (Yucca filamentosa)

    YuCCa Root, a Native American remedy, treats inflammation, joint pain associated with osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. YuCCa is high in vitamins A, B, and C, and contains potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, manganese and copper which make it very soothing to the intestinal tract. The plant provides nutritional support to the structural system (bones, joints, muscles).The saponins in Yucca are a precursor of natural cortisone normally produced by the adrenal glands. Ths makes it a popular remedy for all kinds of inflammation, such as arthritis, rheumatism, bursitis, colitis, and other inflammatory conditions. Yucca is also used as a blood cleanser; today, often in the form of Yucca Root Tea. Many people drink Yucca Root tea to purify the blood and cleanse the colon. Some people apply Yucca Root to their hair as a gentle shampoo. Native Americans used yucca as a soap as it had a lathering effect. Yucca Roots have been used by Native American tribes for years to prevent hair loss and dandruff while making hair shiny and beautiful

    So you were actually NOT correct in your statement (well maybe yes at the beginning…lol)

  6. Elaine permalink

    I read your post on yucca vs. yuca (cassava). It is very clear to me what you are saying (not sure why other commenters are confused!) and I thank you for taking the time to explain all this! I was mixed-up but now I understand 🙂

  7. Mateo Arguello permalink

    I understood the article – though I have read sources that state the root can be eaten if baked or boiled which will eliminate or extract the saponins. I have used Yucca as soap and its excellent cordage for shelters but I am very curious if it the roots can be eaten processed and cooked.

    With that said, at this very moment I am processing and cooking the root in different ways to experiment with taste and texture and of course if any symptoms arise from consuming. I mean if it can be processed and actually eaten then in some areas it is a very easy food to acquire. On thing is clear though right now is that it will require a lot of cooking to soften enough to eat because of how fibrous it is.

    • Mateo Arguello permalink

      Alright, update – I went ahead and fried and boiled the local yucca roots to see if I could extract the saponins out the way you try to do with the tannins of acorns. Unfortunately the Yuccas soap taste was always present and strong. The fried method was the fastest, but tasted the worse and then boiling the root for about two hours with regular water changes had a small effect.

      The conclusion is that you should stick with using the Yucca root as soap lol. Hope this helps!

      • Thank you for this contribution. I have read of tribal people in the southwest USA who baked part of the yucca in ground ovens for long periods of time and then ate it. Would like to find more info on this. One thing for sure is that it takes a lot of preparation. Not exactly a survival activity. And I think it is definitely not the same yucca that grows in the southeast USA. I would bet that ours is much smaller and has a higher concentration of saponins. Anyway, thanks for some real world reporting on this rather than just repeating some questionable info from a source who was just repeating it from another source, etc. etc. etc. Hank

      • Anahit Oha permalink

        Thanx . I was about to try , you saved me lots of time

  8. Frederick permalink

    You should all understand that the Yucca that people mentioned eating in Brazil is the same type eaten all over Latin America. Some of you are insisting that this is a type of cassava. However, all cassava cultivars (sweet and bitten) contain varying amounts of cyanide. I’ve eaten freshly cooked “yucca” root that looks just like the ones in the picture. It was peeled and boiled – that was it. It wasn’t grated and rinsed repeatedly like cassava must be to remove the cyanide containing compounds.

    • John Magoffin permalink

      Frederick, NO you have not eaten YUCCA root, pronounced “yuck-uh”, it is inedible.
      What you have eaten is YUCA root, pronounced “yoo-kuh”, it is eaten all over central and South America. You can find it in many soups and is used just like a potato.
      I used to eat it all the time in Panama.

  9. Mary permalink

    You have to cook it – and is a staple on many tropical island and Africa – please don’t spread false info

    • read the article and other comments and responses. i’m really tired of trying to explain this to people that are too lazy to read. not false info. you are lazy and wrong.

    • Zena permalink

      Are you out of your mind? Yuca is edible, yucca is NOT. They’re two different plants. You clearly didn’t read the article.

  10. A Reader permalink

    It’s amazing to me how many people barge in here to comment without actually reading your post. They make asses of themselves. Thank you for the information. I have eaten yuca (one ‘C’) all my life, but was unfamiliar with the yucca plant. This clears things up, as I found a recipe book that confused the two plants. I will certainly NOT attempt to eat yucca!

  11. Miguel PT permalink

    Thanks for your article! I had this doubt a long time and now I understand. I’m portuguese and we eat a flour made with cassava called “mandioca”. The flour is called “farinha de pau” that would be like stick’s flour in English. The people that were negating the article, didn´t find the difference between C and CC. (They speak portuguese like me).
    There’s a big difference in the leaves of both species, the edible has a “almost palmate (fan-shaped) leaves” and the “soap one”: “sword-shaped leaves”.
    Thanks again! Now I will explore your site:)

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