Agavaceae Yucca brevifolia Engelm.

Joshua Tree

Kawaiisu - Food, Dried Food

Use documented by:
Zigmond, Maurice L., 1981, Kawaiisu Ethnobotany, Salt Lake City. University of Utah Press, page 69

View all documented uses for Yucca brevifolia Engelm.

Scientific name: Yucca brevifolia Engelm.
USDA symbol: YUBAB2 (View details at USDA PLANTS site)
Common names: Joshua Tree
Family: Agavaceae
Family (APG): Asparagaceae
Native American Tribe: Kawaiisu
Use category: Food
Use sub-category: Dried Food
Notes: Fruit pit roasted, mashed, dried and stored for future use. Yucca supplies food in two forms. In the early spring, the apical meristem--the 'heart' or 'cabbage' --was removed with the aid of an oak or a juniper shaft having a shovel like cutting edge at one end. The 'cabbage' was roasted in a pit about three feet deep and perhaps five feet in diameter. A large stone was placed in the center of the pit with smaller stones radiating out from the center. Firewood--preferably Douglas oak--was thrown in and the hot fire burned for a half-day. From time to time more stones--and probably wood--were added. As the fire died down, it was covered with sand or dirt to about ground level, leaving a small aperture in the center. The sand was tapped down, causing flames to shoot out of the hole. Then a layer of dry pine needles was put on and the 'cabbages,' having been skinned, placed on top. Two or three families shared the same oven. the direction in which 'cabbages' were laid identified the owner. Another layer of dry pine needles apparently mixed with silky California broom covered the 'cabbages.' More sand or dirt, patted down and smoothed with a basketry tray, completed the mound, which would now reach a height of five feet but which settled in the roasting process. The roasting continued for two nights, during which no sexual intercourse was permitted. Otherwise it was said that 'it won't cook.' When the 'cabbages' were pulled out, they were so hot they burned the hands. They were cooled before they were eaten. To be stored, they were pulled apart, mashed a little and dried. They could not be dried or stored uncooked. After storage they were soaked and eaten.

RECRD: 4484 id: 44008