The Yucca has become a smart plant for urban gardens. The plant is low maintenance, copes well in sun or shade and brings an interesting heritage. Seeing the flowering Yucca on my daily walk route and a family members visit to the Fremont Indian State Park & Museum has inspired this post.

Neighborhood Yucca plants are coming into bloom

Yucca was a very important plant for ancestral people because of its diverse uses as a food, a medicine and as a fiber

My curiosity about the Yucca is – ‘did ancient/ancestral people use any part of the Yucca as a pigment or dye’? Here is what my color research has uncovered:

  • The fibers of the leaf were used as a brush. There’s lots of historical evidence and people still practice the technique.
  • The root has medicinal value and is used as a soap, shampoo, and foamy cleansing ritual by ancient people.
  • Chemically the natural saponins in the root will act as an emulsifier to help mix organic pigments (earth/minerals) and animal fat – creating a malable paint.
  • Paleothnobottanists suggest ancient people used earth pigments, animal fat and saponins/root/water mixture to make paint for pottery and pictographs.
  • So,Yucca does not deliver a ‘color’ but it served to emulsify pigments to create color and the leaves were striped down to the fibers and used as the paint brush.

Here is a link to dive into Fremont Culture – a unique study of an ancient hunter-gatherer people living approximately 2000 years ago throughout Utah


Wasn’t that interesting!

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