Yucca filamentosa - Adam's Needle

Origin and Distribution

All species of Yucca originate in the Americas.

Adam’s needle is widespread at the entire East coast of the United States. The German name “Palmlilie” (palm lily) derives from its palm-like tuft and the lily-like flowers. However, Yucca is neither related to palms, nor to lilies. They belong to the asparagus family.


Yucca is a perennial, lignifying plant, which is frost resistant in the winter months in Central Europe. Their blue-green, strap-shaped leaves are gathered together in rosettes, which can reach a height of 60 to 120 cm. The edges of the leaves normally smooth, but they often become frayed and form long strings.  The first florescence of Yucca can only be expected years after planting. Their flowers develop in June and July and they will grow in 2 to 3 meter high shafts formed in panicle inflorescences. Their flowers are cream white, bell-shaped and up to 8 cm big. Especially bees and butterflies are attracted by the yucca blossoms.

Interesting Facts

Yucca was first mentioned in 1753 by Carl von Linné and is a good example for the co-evolution of insects and plants. All species of yucca rely on pollination from yucca-moths. The moths place their eggs in the flowers and their larvae feed on the yucca seeds. During night time the Yucca exudes a rather unpleasant odour (for human noses), which is supposed to attract the moths for pollination.

The juice that can be extracted from the leaves and the roots of Adam’s needle was used by the North American Indians to numb fishes when fishing.

Garden Design

Yucca plants prefer dry, calcareous and sunny places to grow. They cannot handle wetness and waterlogged soil.

Because of their high inflorescences and their countless white, bell-shaped flowers, Yucca has been very popular in central European gardens for a long time. It is often used as a structural plant in perennial beds as it is evergreen. Thanks to their striking architectural habitus, they are quite often used in areas near houses or in plant pots on terraces. In combination with plants that have grey foliage and slender, filigree grasses, Adams’ needle can show its full beauty.