Yucca vs Yuca

Periodically I receive inquiries asking if Yucca Do carries the “Yucca” that has edible starchy roots. The first several inquiries like this had me confused because I knew of no yucca that had fully edible roots. I knew about Yucca schdigera from which several root extracts are derived and which are used medicinally and as a food and feed additives but I did not know of a fully edible yucca root. Only after a bit of online research did I realize they were most likely being misled by bad food websites and ignorant grocers that had confused Yucca with Yuca. Unfortunately because of the similarity in spellings and of how the words sound when spoken a confusion has arisen about two unrelated plants. In fact the problem is exacerbated by the internet because when you type “Yuca” into search engines the spelling is often auto-corrected to “Yucca” and the search results pull up information on true Yucca. This will likely be an eternal confusion because once bad information gets on the internet it is seldom correctable or removed.

Yuccas of which there are numerous species, with varying forms and habits are members of the Agave family. Yuccas are monocots, meaning they typically have strap-like leaves with parallel veining and their flower parts occur in threes or multiples thereof. Yuca, also known as Cassava, manioc, and various other common names is botanically Manihot esculent a and is a member of the Euphorbia family. It is a dicot whose leaves have a netted veining and whose flower parts occur in fours, fives or multiples thereof. Thus the two plants are totally unrelated.

So Yuca (or as Manioc as I know it as from my travels in Brazil) is not a Yucca at all. Though the starchy roots of this tropical plant are very tasty and I would go to Brazil just to eat delicious dishes prepared from it, this plant is not a true Yucca regardless of what erroneous websites may tell you.