Spanish bayonet yucca plant

Spanish Dagger

The fast-growing, tropical-looking yucca grows ten feet tall and eight feet wide and can form single or multiple trunks. It has sword-like foliage that originates from the center of the plant. The leaves are bluish-green with smooth margins and pointed tips, but there are also variegated forms available. The foliage bends from the middle and arches in a downward direction. The plant is noted for is showy spikes of fragrant, white flowers with purplish edges that appear in the late spring and early summer. Use it for its exotic, bold green foliage in tropical settings, or around a pool or water feature. The Spanish dagger can also be used as an accent, foundation, background, or sculptural plant. It works well in mixed borders or in rock, cactus or succulent gardens. Use it in attractive containers on patios and porches. The Spanish dagger can also be used in coastal settings. It is native to the Southeastern United States from North Carolina to northeastern Florida, where it grows in sand dunes and along coastal barrier islands.

Yucca gloriosa is a broad-leaved evergreen and one of the many attractive Yucca plant species of the family Asparagaceae.

It is commonly known as Spanish dagger. You may hear Yucca gloriosa referred to by the common names:

  • Soft Tipped Yucca
  • Spanish Dagger
  • Moundlily yucca
  • Palm Lily
  • Cassava
  • Yucca
  • Yuca

The plant genus (Yucca) name comes from the Carbi term for manihot. The specific species ‘gloriosa’, means glorious or splendid.

The mature plant is an evergreen shrub or a small tree. Young plants present more of an appearance of a herbaceous perennial.

The plant grows naturally in a wide variety of settings including:

  • Sandy Woods
  • Coastal Plains
  • Sand Dunes

It can be found growing wild throughout many southern states and as far north as North Carolina.

This plant is native to the southeastern United States, and it is tolerant of both drought and salt.

Yucca Gloriosa Care

Size and Growth

In an ideal setting, the plant grows as 8′ feet tall, makes a great accent plant and loves full sun.

NOTE: There is also a variegated variety known as Yucca gloriosa ‘variegata’

Flowering Plants and Fragrance

Spanish Dagger produces an abundance of fragrant, creamy white flowers in the late summer months (typically through July and August).

The pretty, bell-shaped flowers grow in panicles or clusters, which may be 4″ inches long.

The flowers start out greenish and then transition to cream colored with pink, red or purple accents.

They become six ribbed fruits or seed pods.

The clusters of white flowers grow at the end of stalks that may rise as high as 8′ feet above the plant.


Soft Tipped Yucca’s spine-tipped, sword-shaped blue-green leaves grow from a central stem or trunk.

Individual leaves may grow to be as long as 2-1/2′ feet and 3″ inches wide.

The leaves are semi-soft, but be careful handling gloriosa because of the terminal spines.

The individual leaves are somewhat flexible, but the tips can be a bit dangerous.

Light & Temperature

Although gloriosa can do well in a dry setting, it may suffer under full sun in a very hot settings (e.g. Arizona). Too much sun can cause leaves to turn yellow.

This interesting plant is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 6 – 10 and will tolerate temperatures as low as 10° degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering & Feeding

Although Yucca plants are drought tolerant and can survive very dry settings, it’s best to water on a regular basis.

Provide deep watering when the soil dries. Never allow Yucca plants to stand in water as this produces necrotic, black spots on the leaves.

Because the Spanish dagger is native to the southeastern US, it is naturally adapted to areas with high rainfall.

In a true desert setting, such as those found in the southwestern states, the plant may suffer.

Yuccas kept outdoors often do not need fertilizer.

Those grown in pots may need a weak application of a 3-1-2 ratio, slow-release fertilizer every couple of months during the growing season.

Soil & Transplanting

It’s easy to grow this striking plant in almost any well-draining soil. It is very tolerant of rocky, dry and sandy soils.

Yuccas prefer an alkaline soil with a pH value of 5.5 to 6.5.

Crushed dolomite may be added to the water from time to time to maintain alkalinity.

Grooming & Maintenance

Grooming and pruning are unnecessary. When leaves die, cut or pull them off.

When flowers die, cut the flower stalk all the way down.

Propagating Moundlily Yucca

Yucca plants propagate from stem cuttings or from seeds.

Growing Yucca From Cuttings

It’s best to take cuttings in the springtime. But, it is possible to successfully root Yucca from cuttings throughout the summer.

  • Take cuttings from mature growth rather than from freshly grown stems.
  • Fresh growth is more likely to rot.
  • Use a clean, sharp gardening pruner or knife to take cuttings.
  • Each one should be at least 6″ inches long.
  • Cuttings should be stripped of all but the top few leaves to reduce stress on the cutting.
  • Place the prepared cutting in a cool, dry, shady area with good ventilation.
  • Leave it undisturbed for several days so it can dry out. This helps stimulate good rooting.

The next step is incredibly simple.

  • Poke your cutting into a pot of good soil and place it in an area with consistent indirect lighting.
  • Within a month, it should begin growing roots on its own and showing some signs of leaf growth.
  • At this time, give it a moderate watering and simply continue to care for it as a mature plant.

Growing Yucca From Seed

Yucca plants also propagate from seed. Gather the seeds from the plant at the end of the blooming season.

  • For the best success in germination, scar the seeds with sandpaper to remove a little of the coating and make it easier for them to sprout.
  • Place your scarred seeds into small, individual pots filled with a well-draining mix (e.g. cactus or succulent mix).
  • The seed should be planted about half an inch deep.
  • Put the pot in a warm, sunny window and keep the soil evenly moist until seedlings appear. The should take a week or two.
  • If seedlings do not appear, let the soil dry thoroughly and then start watering it again.

Main Gloriosa Pest or Diseases

The Spanish dagger does not experience any serious problems with disease or insect predation as long as it is not over watered.

As with most plants, excessive watering leads to problems with fungal infections and root rot.

Weakened plants attract pests, and weakened plants are more susceptible to spider mites.

Is Spanish Dagger Yucca Plants Considered Toxic or Poisonous to People, Kids, Pets?

Although many parts of the yucca plant can be processed to make food and beverages, leaves or seeds can cause adverse reactions when ingested by pets.

This is because they contain steroidal saponins.

Ingestion may cause weakness, drooling, vomiting, dilated pupils and loss of coordination.

Is The Gloriosa Considered Invasive?

This native plant is not considered invasive in the US. Its range is limited.

Suggested Uses For Dagger Yucca

Yucca plants make a great addition to landscapes and gardens surrounding houses with Spanish architecture.

They do well in tropical and subtropical settings and be used in mass groupings or as individual specimen plants.

It does well as a border plant to mark property lines and used to help prevent erosion on exposed hillsides.

The plant does well in all manner of adverse circumstances, including situations with a lot of air pollution, eroding soil, drought, and attacks by deer and rabbits.

source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Spanish Bayonet Yucca Care: How To Grow Spanish Bayonet Plants

Native to the southern regions of the United States, Mexico and other parts of Central America, the Spanish bayonet yucca plant has been used for centuries by native people for basket making, clothing, and footwear. Its large white flowers are also a sweet culinary treat, eaten raw or fried. In present time, Spanish bayonet is mostly grown as a dramatic landscape plant. Read on for more Spanish bayonet information.

What is Spanish Bayonet Yucca?

Also known as aloe yucca and dagger yucca, Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia) is a hardy yucca plant that grows in zones 8-12. As the common name implies, Spanish bayonet yucca has very sharp, dagger-like foliage. These 12- to 30-inch (30-76 cm.) long and 1- to 2-inch (2.5-5 cm.) wide blades are so sharp that they can cut through clothing and pierce skin beneath.

Because of this, Spanish bayonet is often used in security plantings placed beneath windows around the home or

as a living security fence. While you can use this sharp plant to your advantage, growing Spanish bayonet yucca near walkways or other areas frequently travelled by people and pets, especially young children, is not recommended.

Spanish bayonet yucca grows 15 feet (4.5 m.) in height. It has a clump-forming habit, so plant width will vary depending on how many offshoots are allowed to grow. As plants mature, they may become top heavy and flop over. Allowing the plant to grow in clumps helps provide support to larger stems. Spanish bayonet yucca plants are available with variegated foliage in some areas.

Spanish Bayonet Yucca Care

Depending upon location, Spanish bayonet yucca produces stunning 2-foot (61 cm.) tall spikes of fragrant, white, bell-shaped flowers. These flowers last for a few weeks and are edible. The flowers of yucca plants are only pollinated by the yucca moth at night, but the sweet nectar of Spanish bayonet draw butterflies to the garden. Flower spikes can be cut back once blooming has finished.

Spanish bayonet yucca is an evergreen in zones 9-12 but it can suffer from frost damage in zone 8. Once established, it is drought and salt tolerant, making it and excellent candidate for seaside gardens or xeriscaping.

It has a slow to moderate growth habit and will grow in full sun to part shade. For fuller, healthier looking plants, Spanish bayonet can be cut back to 1-3 feet (.3-.9 m.) tall every 10-15 years. Gardeners also sometimes snip off the sharp tips of the foliage to prevent injuries.

Spanish bayonet can be propagated by division of offshoots or by seed.

Common pests of Spanish bayonet are weevils, mealybugs, scale and thrips.

Spanish Bayonet

Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia) in Sanibel, Florida. Photo by Jenny Evans, SCCF Native Plant Nursery.

Spanish bayonet, Yucca aloifolia, is a great accent plant for the Florida landscape. With its dramatic flower spikes and sharp, pointed foliage, this plant is sure to grab attention.

Sometimes called aloe yucca, Spanish bayonet doesn’t just attract attention from human visitors—butterflies are also attracted to the fragrant blossoms of this striking plant.


Spanish bayonet has dark green, stiff, dagger-like leaves projecting from thick, trunk-like stems. This evergreen shrub can grow up to 15 feet in height, but often will flop over from its own weight, with new growth continuing to grow upward. Plants eventually form attractive, multi-stemmed clumps.

The leaves of Spanish bayonet are probably its most memorable feature, ending in sharp, needle-like tips. These spiked leaves have been known to pierce through even thick clothing, so select a planting location away from walkways and areas where people or pets could come into contact with the plant. Some people remove the tips with shears, but this could be difficult to maintain with a larger plant.

Savvy gardeners actually take advantage of this feature and plant Spanish bayonet as a security precaution, under windows and other areas of access, or as a living fence. Just be sure to plant it behind other plants, putting space between it and people.

An alternative is spineless yucca, which grows in a more tree-like form and has harmless leaves that lack sharp tips.

The fragrant, bell-shaped flowers of Spanish bayonet are white with tinges of light purple, and appear in spring or summer on tall spikes at the center of the plant, high above the foliage. The blossoms are edible, making a crisp addition to salads raw, or served battered and deep-fried.

While Spanish bayonet is great for providing year-round greenery, gardeners who’d like a little more color can try one of several culitvars, including ‘Marginata’ with yellow margined leaves, or ‘Tricolor’ with green and white leaves.

Spanish bayonet looks very similar to another yucca, Spanish dagger (Yucca gloriosa). Leaf margins on Spanish dagger are smooth, whereas those on Spanish bayonet are rough.

Planting and Care

Spanish bayonet can be incorporated into almost any landscape in Florida (zones 8b-12). It has a high salt tolerance, making it a excellent choice for coastal gardens, and will grow in most soil types, as long as the soil is well-drained. It grows best in full sun to partial shade, but can tolerate nearly full shade.

Spanish bayonet requires little maintenance; it’s highly drought tolerant and once established, requires almost no supplemental irrigation.

Spanish bayonet can grow quite large so keep this in mind when selecting a planting site. Mature height of Spanish bayonet is between 10 and 15 feet, and its spread will vary. This plant does grow slowly, so don’t expect it to reach its mature size in a hurry. Propagation is by division of the suckers or by cuttings, but you’ll find potted plants for sale at nurseries.

UF/IFAS Publications

Also on Gardening Solutions

  • Coastal Landscapes
  • Edible Flowers
  • Yucca

The Delights and Perils of the Spanish Dagger

Texas Yucca Blooms by Jann Alexander © 2014 Spanish Dagger in Bloom by Jann Alexander © 2014 Texas Yucca Lily Blooms by Jann Alexander © 2014 Texas Yucca Blooms Dark by Jann Alexander © 2014 West Texas Yucca Bloom by Jann Alexander © 2014

When it’s ready to throw up its March bloom, the Spanish Dagger’s magnificent flower always comes out on top. The thick-leaf yucca found in Texas and the southwest is a Yucca treculeana—more commonly known as a Spanish dagger. Though its fibrous sharp dagger-like leaf is poisonous, its flower is as edible as it is surprising to behold. The Spanish dagger’s flower stalk begins as its fruit, and resembles a giant asparagus at first. Upon blooming, it’s actually a mass of many lily-like flowers. It blooms for but a short time, and then as though the effort was much too great for it, the stalk dies.

Timing is everything. One can acquire patience and prudence with a Spanish dagger in an Austin front yard. In far south Texas, where they populate the wild chaparral and brush country, they bloom with abandon (once) as far as the eye can see. So one need not play the waiting game there, though the yucca’s sharp-tipped bayonet leaves, capable of inflicting unfortunate wounds, demand respect anywhere. ♣

Austin’s Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center offers excellent resources for Texas natives like the Spanish dagger, and is a treat to visit when in Austin. For the many amazing uses of the yucca, from housing materials to toxic arrows to laxatives, refer to Texas Beyond History. See more images like this (including more spring wildflowers in Texas), and shop for my prints, in Naturescapes.

Categories: Art + Austin, Art + Influences, Art + Life, Art + Nature, Art + Photo, Art + Travel, Naturescapes

Tagged as: Austin, influences, nature, photography, photos of Yucca treculeana, postaday, Spanish daggers, spring, Texas natives, Weekly Photo Challenge, yuccas

Plant Database

Cressler, Alan

Yucca aloifolia

Spanish Dagger, Spanish Bayonet, Aloe Yucca

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), PR (I), VI (I)

Aloe yucca or spanish dagger is a slender-stemmed plant, 6-12 ft. high (sometimes taller) with a stocky, branched or unbranched trunk. The evergreen leaves are thick and stiff and up to 2 ft. long, with tiny, sharp serrations on the margin and a very sharp tip. Whitish, pendulous flowers, about 3 in. wide, occur in erect clusters up to 2 ft. long, and are followed by fruit which becomes pendent. Evergreen shrub or small tree often with stout clustered trunks that are sometimes branched, with sprouts at the slightly swollen base, and with bayonetlike leaves crowded and spreading at top.

Tolerant of salt and suitable for planting along sandy shores, Spanish Bayonet is easily propagated from sprouts. Several cultivated varieties have striped or colored leaves. The fruit is eaten by birds and sometimes by humans, and the flowers can be served as a salad or cooked. Pioneers made rope and string from the fibrous leaves.

From the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul


USA: AL , FL , GA , LA , MS , NC , SC
Native Distribution: Coastal plain from NC to FL & LA
Native Habitat: Sand dunes; edges of brackish marshes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained sands.
Conditions Comments: Spanish dagger is tolerant of salt spray. It is often used as an ornamental but its placement should be carefully considered as the sharp-pointed leaves can be dangerous.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Description: Yuccas will germinate promptly from fresh seed held over winter. Seeds germinate best in 60-70 degree temperatures. Yuccas may also be grown from rhizomes, stem cuttings, or by digging offsets from the side of established plants. Transplant into a well
Seed Collection: Gather capsules as they begin to dry but before they split. Allow to dry, then crush to remove seeds. Overwinter, keep seeds in moist sand in the refrigerator. For longer storage periods, keep in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status


This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241).

Click herefor map of regions.


Bibref 1620 – Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Yucca aloifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Yucca aloifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Yucca aloifolia


Record Modified: 2017-07-07
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back

The Spanish bayonet plant comes from the perennial shrub and is part of the Asparagaceae family. Its scientific name is Yucca aloifolia.

It’s a slim stemmed shrub that can grow as tall as 10-15′ tall, perfect for xeriscape gardens. It has stocky branches and the leaves on this plant are sturdy, thick, and pointy. They can grow 2′ long and their ends can be very sharp – sharp enough to puncture skin!

Going by many names, these plants also bloom white flowers, which usually form in clusters. These flowers appear in spring and summer, as tall spikes in the middle of the plant. Both the fruit and the flower of this plant can be eaten, though the flowers are better cooked.

Quick Care

Watch out for the pointy leaves growing from each stem. Source: Eric Barbier

Common Name Spanish Bayonet, Dagger Plant, Aloe Yucca, Spanish Dagger
Scientific Name Yucca aloifolia
Family Agavaceae
Height & Spread 10-15′ tall and 3-5′ wide
Light Full sun
Soil Well-draining cactus soil or potting soil with pumice
Water Once per week, more often in hotter temperatures
Pests & Diseases Scale, spider mites, and yucca moth larvae, leaf spot

This plant is native to the southern regions of the United States. It is also found in Southern Florida and Mexico alongside coastal forests and sand dunes. Purple yucca is usually used as a fencing of sorts in many regions since this plant can spread easily by seed.

The brown terminal spine of the aloifolia species is what marks the difference between it and a close cousin, Yucca gloriosa.

Yucca Aloifolia Care

Overall, yucca dagger plants are tough and mostly grow in sandy, coastal areas. If you’re living in warm conditions, this tree species is easy to care for. However, if in a colder USDA Plant Hardiness zone, you will have to take extra care to protect it during the fall and winter. It thrives best outdoors, as indoors there is far too much share for it to do well.

The Spanish bayonet plant needs a lot of sun all year. No matter what month it is, this plant thrives on sunlight. The plant prefers a temperature of 50-60°F degrees during the winter season and 70°F or more in the summer season. Yucca plants tend to prefer sunlight as compared to artificial light, and this is why they thrive outdoors in minimal shade location facing south.

You can tell your yucca is not getting enough sunlight when the leaves start to stretch. Your yucca plant can also get a sunburn, and you will be able to see it on the plant when the leaves color white or yellow. When you move the plant outdoors, make sure to do it gradually and not instantly. Otherwise, sunburn may affect your plant.

Your yucca plant can also suffer from freeze damage. When it’s too cold, make sure to move it indoors; otherwise, the leaves will turn black and then die.

Watering & Humidity

If the temperature increases, you may need to increase the frequency of watering. During the rainy reason and the winter season, you do not have to water the yucca plant that often as it’s either getting enough, or going dormant for winter. The leaves will start wrinkling if it is not watered enough. After a while, they wilt and then ultimately, die.

If you overwater, the roots may start to rot. Your leaves may discolor and even die if the over watering does not stop. The roots will even start smelling, which will ultimately kill the whole plant.


Yucca aloifolia purpurea thrives in extremely porous soil with excellent drainage. To make soil for this plant, you can either use cactus soil or mix potting soil with pumice or perlite to loosen it up.


Growing slowly in your garden, yucca plants only need fertilizer a couple of times per year. A fertilizer with low nitrogen is perfect for this plant. Make sure it includes calcium, magnesium, iron and sulfur. When applying fertilizer, make sure to not overdo it or your plant may die. A high level of nitrogen can immediately kill the leaves so it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Size & Growth

The yucca plant can have a trunk 25′ tall or more. The stems of this plant grow slowly and form thick leaves that grow thin at the end. The leaves are the reason this plant is called the Spanish bayonet plant. When dealing with the leaves, make sure to be careful since they can be very pointy and may hurt you if you are not careful.


These plants mostly germinate from new seed during winters. The best temperature to germinate a yucca plant seed is 60-70°F. Yuccas can easily be grown from stem cuttings or even fully grown plants. When planting a yucca seed, allow the capsule to dry and then crush it to remove the seed. During the winter, keep the seed in moist sand in a cool place.


Since the sharp spikes of a yucca plant can hurt you or even cause an allergic reaction, it is best to cut it before the leaves become too pointy. You can cut the tip of the leaves with pruning shears or even a pair of scissors. Make sure to wear a good pair of gloves so you do not hurt yourself. Cutting the leaves will not hurt you or damage the plant in any way.


A striking xeriscaping option. Source: Dan Kristiansen

Yucca plants do not need constant attention, but they do have requirements. For example, a yucca plant will gradually die if it is exposed to sunlight for too long. It will also not survive for long in artificial light, which is why it is an outdoor plant. Overwatering a yucca plant can discolor the leaves and also destroy the roots. If the plant does not get sufficient water, the leaves may shrivel and die.


Spider mites are attracted to the yucca aloifolia Spanish bayonet plant. If this is the case with your plant, simply remove the spider mites with a sponge or some spray oil. Mealy bugs, and some types of aphids can affect the plant too. Aphids and mealy bugs can be easily removed by watering your plant with a strong hose.


Brown spot or gray leaf spot can affect the leaves of a yucca plant. You can prevent gray leaf spot by reducing the number of times you water the plant, and taking care not to splash over the leaves. You can prevent brown spot by making sure the soil of your plant is not too damp.


How do you care for a yucca plant indoors?

When your yucca plant is indoors, make sure to give it a healthy watering every 5 to 7 days. Also, keep it in the brightest light area of your home since it needs full sun year round.

Are Spanish daggers poisonous?

The sap that is inside the plant of a Yucca aloifolia is mildly toxic. The sharp ends of the leaves can cause a severe puncture wound, which can lead to an allergic reaction.

What does a Spanish bayonet plant look like?

Spanish bayonet plants have dark green leaves that are thick and end in sharp, pointy ends. This plant has a height of 15 to 20 feet and tends to flop over to one side from its own weight.

The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:
Kevin Espiritu
Clarisa Teodoro
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