While back I posted a photo of a yucca blossom. I got the comment that it appeared very delicate. I thought wow, what a contrast for the spikey dangerous plant. The spikes of the yucca are tougher on the skin then the thorns of a rose bush. Yet the yucca was revered by the plains Indian.
The yucca held lots of nutriments and utilities for the Indians. The root was a source of vitamins for them but to much and it was a laxative. The yuccas cussing name was soap weed and does make a decent cleaning compound. The spikes are tough enough to be woven into sandals and baskets. It could also be flayed and used like a tooth brush, using the ground root as tooth powder.
For many though, the yucca was an obnoxious plant. Like many plants, if it is growing in the wrong place it is a weed.
Because of the root nutriments, buffalo would root the yuccas up and eat the roots. Getting past the spikes is a challenge. Calves have been known to up root yuccas to get at the roots.
Oh those spikes are nasty. Have been spiked by them. Leaves a nasty, blackish, purple gash in the flesh and does the blood flow. Person needs good protective gear when working with them. Have heard of some people planting them in the wells of their basement windows to keep intruders out.
The Indians had another use for the yuccas. They could make a pretty good hooch from the root. Grind up some root, put it in a buffalo bladder, add water and let it ferment. The Indian would take their buffalo bladder and bury it and a month or so later, they would have a mescal. It was party time on the plains.
Oh, the yucca is also the state flower of New Mexico.