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20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Yuccas are striking evergreen plants with thick, sword-shaped leaves and tall flowering stalks. While often mistaken for cactus, yuccas are actually a separate genus of plants in the asparagus family. These rugged, drought-tolerant plants are native to hot, dry regions of North and Central America.

With over 20 different species plus many cultivars, there’s a huge variety of sizes and looks when it comes to yucca plants. From compact, dwarf varieties to massive tree-like specimens reaching 30 feet tall, yuccas have carved out a popular niche in Southwestern landscaping and xeriscaping.

This guide will cover 20 of the most common types of yucca plants you might see, including details to help with identification.

Variegated Yucca Plants

1. Color Guard Yucca (Yucca color guard)

Color-Guard-Yucca-Yucca-color-guard 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for the Color Guard Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones4-10
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeMid to late summer
Height/Spread2-3 feet tall, 2-3 feet spread

This eye-catching variegated yucca cultivar has a bright yellow stripe running along the center of each blue-green leaf. New growth emerges with bold golden tones before maturing to creamy yellow stripes.

2. Golden Sword Yucca (Yucca aloifolia ‘Gilded age’)

Golden-Sword-Yucca-Yucca-aloifolia-Gilded-age 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for the Golden Sword Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones4-10
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeMid to late summer
Height/Spread2-3 feet tall, 2-3 feet spread

Golden sword’s narrow, flexible blue-green leaves are edged in golden yellow margins that intensify in sunlight. It grows into vase-shaped clumps around 3-4 feet tall and wide.

3. Ivory Towers Yucca (Yucca elephantipes ‘Ivory towers’)

Ivory-Towers-Yucca-Yucca-elephantipes-Ivory-towers-946x1024 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for the Ivory Towers Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca filamentosa ‘Ivory Towers’
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones5-10
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeSummer
Height/Spread4-5 feet tall (flower spike up to 6 feet), 2-3 feet spread

This compact golden-variegated yucca stays just 18-24 inches tall but has beautiful creamy ivory bands running along the centers of its rigid green leaves.

Large Tall Yucca Plants

4. Spanish Dagger (Yucca gloriosa)

 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for the Spanish Dagger:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca gloriosa
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones6-11
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread4-8 feet tall, 3-5 feet spread

One of the largest cold-hardy species, Spanish dagger yuccas have rigid blue-green leaves that point upward in a dense rosette. They typically grow 6-8 feet tall and wide but can reach tree sizes over 15 feet!

5. Andean Yucca (Yucca filifera)

Andean-Yucca 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for the Andean Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca gigantea (formerly Yucca elephantipes)
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones9-11 (can be grown indoors in other zones)
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeSummer
Height/Spread20-30 feet tall, 10-15 feet spread (smaller when grown indoors)

Soaring gray-green clustered stalks and slender curving leaves up to 3 feet long make the Spanish dagger one of the most impressive tree-like yuccas for desert landscapes.

6. Thompson’s Yucca (Yucca thompsoniana)

Thompsons-Yucca 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Thompson’s Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca thompsoniana
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones6-11
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread6-10 feet tall, 3-5 feet spread

This large Southwestern species forms towering rosettes up to 10 feet tall and wide, with spiky pale blue-green leaves up to 3 feet long.

Is Yucca a Cactus?

Though their spiky, drought-tolerant appearance is similar, yuccas are not cacti. They belong to the Asparagaceae family which includes other plants like asparagus, agaves and Sansevieria.

While cacti have fleshy green stems and branches, yuccas have thick woody stems and rigidly erect leaf growth. Yucca leaves are also softer and more flexible than the spines and barbed bristles of cacti.

Purple & Reddish Yucca

7. Harriman’s Yucca (Yucca harrimaniae)

Harrimans-Yucca 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Harriman’s Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca harrimaniae Trel.
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones5-9
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet spread

One of the smallest species, the dwarf Harriman’s yucca stays under 2 feet tall. Its blue-green leaves take on vibrant reddish-pink edges when exposed to lots of sun.

8. Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)

 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Red Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameHesperaloe parviflora
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones5-10
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeSpring to summer
Height/Spread2-3 feet tall, 2-4 feet spread (flower spikes can reach up to 5 feet)

Despite its common name, red yucca is actually more closely related to the asparagus plant than true yuccas. But it still shares their distinctive spiky foliage and tall bloom spikes in brilliant coral red.

9. Spanish Bayonet (Yucca aloifolia)

 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for the Spanish Bayonet:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca aloifolia
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones7-11
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeSummer
Height/Spread8-15 feet tall, 5-8 feet spread

Spanish bayonet yuccas form towering clumps up to 15 feet tall with long pliable blue-green leaves. Mature plants develop an attractive purplish cast on both their trunks and leaf tips.

Common Yucca Types

10. Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

Adams-Needle-Yucca-filamentosa-819x1024 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Adam’s Needle:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca filamentosa
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones4-10
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread2-4 feet tall, 3-5 feet spread

One of the most wide-ranging and cold-hardy yuccas, Adam’s needle puts out tall sturdy stalks lined with thick rigid green leaves. It grows clump-forming rosettes around 2-3 feet tall.

11. Paleleaf Yucca (Yucca pallida)

Paleleaf-Yucca-Yucca-pallida-819x1024 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Paleleaf Yucca :

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca pallida
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones7-10
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeLate spring to early summer
Height/Spread2-4 feet tall, 2-3 feet spread

As its name implies, this species has pale blue-green leaves in dense rosettes reaching up to 6 feet tall. The twisting, slightly recurved leaves give paleleaf yucca intriguing sculptural forms.

12. Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata)

Banana-Yucca-Yucca-baccata 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Banana Yucca :

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca baccata
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones5-10
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeLate spring to early summer
Height/Spread2-4 feet tall, 3-6 feet spread

Thick curved green leaves cluster together at the tips of trunk-like stems giving banana yucca a distinctive silhouette. Growing up to 6 feet tall, its edible greenish-white flowers also resemble mini bananas.

Yucca Leaf Issues

13. Buckley’s Yucca (Yucca constricta)

Buckleys-Yucca-Yucca-constricta 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Buckley’s Yucca :

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca constricta
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones7-10
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeLate spring to early summer
Height/Spread2-4 feet tall, 2-3 feet spread

A smaller, more compact Southwest native, Buckley’s yucca tops out around 2-3 feet tall. Its stiff blue-green leaves have curled thread-like fibers along the edges that tangle and knot together.

14. Spinning Yucca (Yucca rupicola)

Spinning-Yucca-Yucca-rupicola-1024x1024 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Spinning Yucca :

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca rupicola
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones7-11
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread2-3 feet tall, 2-3 feet spread

The twisting green leaves with brown tips spiral outward on the spinning yucca, giving it an otherworldly quality. Hardy to extreme desert conditions, it grows up to 4 feet tall and wide.

15. Soft Leaf Yucca (Yucca recurvifolia)

 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Soft Leaf Yucca :

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca recurvifolia
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones7-11
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread6-10 feet tall, 6-8 feet spread

Unlike the sharp blades of most yuccas, the soft leaf yucca has pliable, recurved green leaves with a tan underside. Plants reach 3 feet tall with flowers that open facing downwards.

Huge, Massive Yucca Plants

16. Datil Yucca (Yucca baccata var. brevifolia)

Datil-Yucca-Yucca-baccata-var.-brevifolia-819x1024 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Datil Yucca :

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca valida
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones7-11
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread2-4 feet tall, 2-3 feet spread

Also known as the banana yucca, massive datil forms have multiple thick trunks branching into clusters of curved bluish leaves giving them the nickname “Mexican toilet brush plant.”

17. Our Lord’s Candle (Yucca whipplei)

Our-Lords-Candle-Yucca-whipplei-819x1024 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short chart providing the requested information for Our Lord’s Candle :

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca whipplei
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial
Zones7-11
ExposureFull sun
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread2-4 feet tall, 2-3 feet spread

One of the largest, most impressive yucca species, Our Lord’s candle sends up a single thick trunk 15-30 feet high topped by a huge dense rosette of rigid blue-green leaves 2-4 feet long!

Dwarf, Miniature Yucca

18. Dwarf Yucca (Yucca nana)

 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short information chart for Dwarf Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca nana
Plant TypePerennial succulent
Soil TypeWell-draining, sandy soil
Color VarietiesGreen foliage
Zones5-11 (USDA Hardiness Zones)
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeLate spring to summer
Height/Spread1-2 feet tall / 1-2 feet wide

As its name suggests, dwarf yucca stays small, growing in compact clumps of dense bluish leaves less than 2 feet tall. Perfect for borders and rock gardens in the Southwest.

19. Creeping Yucca (Yucca recurvata)

 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short information chart for Creeping Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameHesperaloe parviflora
Plant TypePerennial succulent
Soil TypeWell-draining, sandy soil
Color VarietiesGreen foliage, red or pink flowers
Zones6-11 (USDA Hardiness Zones)
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeSummer to fall
Height/Spread2-3 feet tall / 3-4 feet wide

Creeping yucca is a mini groundcover type with flexible green leaves that spread horizontally in prostrate rosettes just 12 inches high. It naturally forms small drifting colonies.

20. Soaptree Yucca (Yucca elata)

 20 Types of Yucca Plants (With Pictures)

Here’s a short information chart for Soaptree Yucca:

AttributeInformation
Botanical NameYucca elata
Plant TypePerennial succulent
Soil TypeWell-draining, sandy soil
Color VarietiesGreen foliage, white flowers
Zones6-11 (USDA Hardiness Zones)
ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Bloom TimeSpring to summer
Height/Spread10-15 feet tall / 6-8 feet wide

One of the most common and cold-hardy species, soaptree yucca is found all across Arizona’s deserts and mountains. Its long curved blue-green leaves radiate out in dense 4-6 foot tall clumps.

Yuccas are among the toughest, most versatile plants around. Whether you want a towering accent plant, a compact groundcover, or some bold sculptural forms, there’s a variety suited for gardens and landscapes across the arid Southwest.

With their easy-care nature and distinctive appearance, yuccas deserve a spot in any waterwise planting. Just give them lots of sun and lean, well-drained soil, and their bold rosettes and flowering stalks will add some rugged beauty!

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