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PlantFiles: Spanish Bayonet, Aloe Yucca, Spanish Dagger
Yucca aloifolia

Family: Agavaceae (ah-gav-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Yucca (YUK-uh) (Info)
Species: aloifolia (al-oh-ih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Yucca yucatana

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

20 members have or want this plant for trade.

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8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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12 positives
5 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive RollinRobert1 On Mar 12, 2015, RollinRobert1 from Pensacola, FL wrote:

Very good plant for dissuading prowlers or unwanted traffic. Very sharp spiked and will draw blood. You can root these from cuttings by simply stripping the lower part of the plant and soaking in water for 5-10 days. (approx.)
I recommend gloves and caution.

Positive Lilyofthenight On Jun 3, 2011, Lilyofthenight from Victoria, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Root easily in water from cuttings.

Young Plants DO NOT tolerate freezing temps.

Neutral SuburbanNinja80 On May 10, 2011, SuburbanNinja80 from Plainfield, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

Nice Plant untill you Throw a Box into it and the Leaves them self go thure the box. I can see why they would call it a Spanish Dagger or Spanish Bayonet.

Neutral GermanStar On Dec 1, 2010, GermanStar from Fountain Hills, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted a 15-gal Y. aloifolia in mid-September, and the leaves have been turning dark/black on me. Any idea what causes this darkening of the leaves? Several lower leaves turned black and died, and many upper leaves are now showing early stages of the same affliction.

Positive comanchetexas On Sep 24, 2010, comanchetexas from Comanche, TX wrote:

Nip the ends of the leaves 1/4 inch with shears or nippers. I know of no detrimental effects as these leaves eventually become the skirt. You can brush against the plant with your bare arm.

Positive stephenp On Apr 30, 2010, stephenp from Wirral, UK, Zone 9a
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

A nice architectural plant capable of surviving the wet, cold winters here in the UK. It has a lovely habit similar to that of Yucca elephantipes (guatamalensis), and grows a multi trunk habit similar.

Like has been re-itterated though this plant is lethal, upon buying this plant I was stabbed by the sharp spiny leave and it really hurts, so take extra care, once it's sited, leave it.

Positive peejay12 On Feb 24, 2010, peejay12 from Porthleven, Helston, Cornwall
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

Although this plant can be grown in the UK, it does not seem to be very popular - possibly the vicious spiked leaves put people off. I wonder - if a visitor was injured could they sue you?
If your winters are too cold to grow Cordyline australis, then this is a good look alike - although it rarely branches much --instead it produces clusters of trunks.
In the UK it can be damaged at temperatures below -10C, but the sidegrowths or'pups' will soon take over. It has been crossed with Y flaccida to produce Y recurvifolia, and Y filamentosa to produce Y gloriosa.

I love this plant because it grows much faster than other yuccas and produces dozens of offsets ('pups' or 'toes').
Since I now have a bigger garden I would like to grow a huge thicket of them. Any reasonably well-drained is OK.
As someone said earlier, trunks tend to topple over when they reach 6 foot, so I would cut off the taller ones, which would encourage more 'pups' to grow.
It will tolerate some shade and the leaves then grow longer and softer, recurved and harmless !

This yucca is the only species which will produce seed naturally outside of the USA, because the Pronuba moth is not necessary for pollination. I have tasted the date-like fruits and they are delicious -- and the seeds easy to grow.
Several forms of this plant were described by botanists in the early 1900's, (eg 'draconis' - with softer leaves and branching more) but the names of these forms have been made invalid.

In answer to the question below, I have found Yuccas resent being moved -- their trunks shrink in height and they'sulk' for a year. But if the plant is big this won't really matter -- as it will still look impressive.Otherwise it's sometimes quicker to take a number of top cuttings and, when rooted, plant them in a group of three or five - although I've found cuttings more difficult to root than other Yuccas, as the trunks are less succulent and dry out and shrink easily.

Positive ILfarmwife1 On Oct 6, 2009, ILfarmwife1 from Saint Joseph, IL wrote:

I live in East central IL and am wondering what time of year it is appropriate to divide and transplant the Yucca. We have a very elderly clump of it growing down the road at an old farmstead and want to move it soon. Does anyone recommend moving and planting it in the fall? I'm sorry if this is not the correct place to post this.

Positive tennesseestorm On Oct 21, 2008, tennesseestorm from Bristol, TN wrote:

I live in northeast Tennessee @ 1500 ft. elevation and have had great success with this plant, even in a more shaded area. In full sun, it would probably be amazing.

Positive escambiaguy On Feb 13, 2007, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

If you're someone that has a brown thumb and the worst soil possible, than this is the plant for you! All you have to do is dig a clump and sit it on the ground where you want it, that's it. I have been stuck by mine plenty of times when weeding around it but I still find it an enjoyable plant.

Positive GFT On Aug 19, 2005, GFT from Biloxi, MS wrote:

Spanish Bayonet has several positives. It is attractive and the bloom stalk is particularly nice. It will grow happily in the hottest, brightest part of the yard; it will also grow on soil where nothing else will. It spreads through shoots at the base of the plant, but it is also easy to propogate; simply cut a piece into sections, set them on bare ground, and give them a little water. They will take root very quickly.

But there is a reason that many people plant it under windows to discourage intruders. It is an extremely formidable plant, and the needle-like leaftips will puncture even the toughest protective gear. It can also be a significant hazard to yard work; I can't count the times I've backed into it when mowing the lawn. I would very specifically warn against planting it where any innocent and unsuspecting person will encounter it.

That said, I find that the plant tends to either break or fall after it reaches a certain height. Unless you want to leave it "as is"--the broken piece will quickly root and fallen trunks often produce vertical growth--your best bet is to tackle the clean up with a machete while wearing your heaviest gloves and clothing. Even then, reconcile yourself to the fact that you'll be bitten. It's inevitable.

Positive suncatcheracres On Feb 16, 2004, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

My Mother was an avid gardener in South Louisiana, and she really liked succulent and cactus type plants. Spanish Bayonet was one of her favorite plants to use as a barrier along a fence line, mostly to punctuate the corners of the property. She felt that they discouraged both children and dogs from coming into her yard and disturbing her plants and cats.

She always kept them up and they never looked brown or unsightly. They also never got taller than pruning range, so I suspect she kept them cut down to a reasonable height. I was just a child, so I don't really remember.

My Mother was of the school that thinks that good fences make good neighbors, but she always had something attractive and/or barrier like growing up on her ugly chain link fences, like pyracantha or thorny climbing roses, and I suspect that security for our property, beyond kids and dogs, was also in her mind.

Neutral tsynakow On Feb 15, 2004, tsynakow wrote:

First of all, my spainsh bayonets survive in central new york state. My neighbors cannot believe I have them. I was very excited to put them in five years ago. I chose them because I wanted my corner driveway garden to be drought tolerant. My hose does not go that far and we cannot waste water since we have a shallow well. Now they are out of control and I need to move them. Three grew into more somehow. They are also taller than my burning bush which is behind them. I guess I have mixed feelings about these interesting plants. I don't know where to place them. Any ideas?

Positive JimK On Feb 5, 2004, JimK from Sicklerville, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

Growing this yucca is a challenge for where I live in Southern New Jersey, however it does perfectly fine in Southern New Jersey coastal towns. I've had mixed results ovewintering aloifolia over the years with some years no problems, and other years, some amount of damage. It seems I am right on the edge of where this yucca will comfortably grow. Last winter (2002/03) for example, was a very cold and wet winter. An aloifolia I had growing in a southern exposure against a south facing wall had no leaf damage, but the growth spear rotted on me when the weather started getting warmer in the spring. The spear eventually pulled away from the stem and some upper stem rot started to occur. I applied a fungicide and eventually the rot stopped and the growth started up again. But because there was some upper stem rot, the new growth was abnormal and was growing in a downward position. On day I tried to straighten it out and snapped all the new growth off. About a month later I had about 8 new growth points from where the abnormal head snapped off. All the new growth points were pointed up and growing in the right direction. As for the peice that snapped off, I stuck it in the ground and it rooted itself. I recently moved away (1/9/04) from the house where this yucca is planted, and I'm curious to see how it has done over the past month. I'm permitted by the new owners to go back in the spring and take some plants that I had intended to take with me, but couldn't get out of the ground in time due to sudden frozen soil. We literally went form temps in the 40's and 50's to teens over the course of days and the ground froze when I had planned to dig stuff up.

Anyway, since aloifolia is such a challenge, I'll continue to try and grow it. I should have better luck in the new house as it is closer to the shore area and about 15 miles further south from where we used to live.

Neutral noxiousweed On Jan 13, 2004, noxiousweed from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This yucca is found all over the east bay of the San Francisco bay area. If looked after, it offers some beauty. Left unattended, it grows tall and spreads. I see it more in the 20' range and taller - not 10' as listed.

Once established, it is likely permanent. Cutting it down, digging it up - some part of it will survive about anything. Even if you feel you've successfully conquered it, root can sit dormant for up to 10 years - then reappear.

Leaves are very sharp and contain an oil or fiber that causes irritation if it breaks your skin.

Where I live in El Sobrante, one could not go 1/4 mile in any direction without seeing this yucca at least once.

Negative astanton On Nov 1, 2003, astanton from Anaheim, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

Around the roots of this tree, hundreds of little white bulbs mature at once spreading like rhizoms, which seem to all be baby yucca trees! It is impossible to get rid of them and they grow through whatever else you planted there. The spread is up to 4 feet from the base of the tree itself, half the height of the tree--my tree is about 8 feet tall now, we started it from a baby-on-the-trunk 7 years ago.

It appears that yucca trees spread several ways: babies grown on the trunk of the mature tree, seeds, and rhizomous-bulbs that they self-create around their roots. It is quite unpleasant trying to get rid of them once they established well and like where they are!

Positive Monocromatico On Jul 30, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I was sucessful planting this from seeds. I collected mature pods and let them dry. Then I ripened the seeds and placed them on the surface of a pot filled with well-drained organic soil. After a week or ten days, new plants were growing. In the first days you have to water it regularly, once every five days to a week, depending on the weather. After the first transplanting you can water them less frequently. Keep them always in full sun.

Neutral Floridian On Oct 2, 2001, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Spanish Bayonet has an erect trunk armed with sharp pointed straplike leaves each about 2' long. The young leaves near the growing tip stand erect; older ones are reflexed downward, and the oldest wither and turn brown, hanging around the lower trunk like an Hawaiian skirt. The tip of the trunk develops a long spike of white flowers. Spanish Bayonet also produces new buds, or offshoots, near the base of the trunk, forming a thicket.

It is native to coastal areas from North Carolina to Mexico and in the West Indies and will flourish in full sun with light, sandy soil. Spanish bayonet may be the ultimate in "security plants" - it can be planted beneath windows and other access points where its fiercely pointed leaves will prevent passage of all interlopers human and otherwise.
Do not plant Spanish Bayonet near walkways, patios or in areas frequented by children and pets. This plant can inflict painful puncture wounds even through heavy clothing!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Atmore, Alabama
Cullman, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama (2 reports)
Fountain Hills, Arizona
Goodyear, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Carmichael, California
Davis, California
El Sobrante, California
Hayward, California
Oak View, California
Reseda, California
Spring Valley, California
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Cape Canaveral, Florida
Lecanto, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Coushatta, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Centreville, Maryland
Cockeysville, Maryland
Preston, Maryland
Biloxi, Mississippi
Belmar, New Jersey
Newfield, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey
Sicklerville, New Jersey
Roswell, New Mexico
Brooklyn, New York
Okatie, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina
Sumter, South Carolina
Bristol, Tennessee
Cookeville, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Baytown, Texas
Broaddus, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas
La Porte, Texas
North Richland Hills, Texas
Port Bolivar, Texas
Portland, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Victoria, Texas
Lindon, Utah
Bristol, Virginia

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