Summer Botany: Banana Yucca Seed Pod Dissection

After trying for 4 years to collect one of the giant seed pods from our small population of banana yuccas, I was sure this would be the year. One of the plants was in full bloom about a month ago, and after noticing the fleshy fruits were enlarging, I kept watch almost daily.

I should’ve suspected the local population of mule deer were also keeping close watch, because a week ago they snuck in and harvested every single seed pod! Disappointed? Yes. But still determined …….

Then a few days ago I discovered another plant loaded with a dozen of the huge fleshy green pods! Without further ado, I liberated 2 of them and dissection began …..

Curious about what lies hidden inside the unusually large seed pods of the Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata), I grabbed a large knife and sliced …. carefully making both a cross-sectional and a longitudinal cut. My first reaction was ”cucumber!” And my next reaction was ”cucumber!”

Not quite as easy as cutting into a cucumber, the knife only paused a second as it pierced the skin, but met no resistance after cleanly slicing into the fleshy center.

As I laid the longitudinal section open, I was sad to see my cut had gravely injured a small salmon colored worm …. perhaps a larvae of the pronuda moth that pollinates yucca flowers? He had already made quite a feast of the soft flesh, and I wondered if he was intent on eating his way through the fruit to drop on the ground and crawl away or maybe overwinter inside the fruit to emerge next spring as a moth?

I did learn that the two toothy rows of seeds turn black as the pods dry in the fall, and it is possible to collect and store the seeds for spring planting. But I then wondered how many of these tasty pods actually mature before a hungry deer happens by?

What flowers and seeds are you observing this summer?

6 Comments

  1. janeottawa says:

    Hey Barb, such an interesting seed pod! How’s your summer going?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Hello Jane! So good to hear from you …. It’s been too long! Thanks for the comment on the banana yucca. I just love getting under the skin of unusual things. ….. the summer is going grandly. June began and nearly ended in a firey inferno, with wildfires being reported almost daily. But then towards the end of the month the summer monsoons swept in and did we ever get rain! And more rain! The downpours have stopped, but it clouds up every afternoon and that beings the temps down into the mid 70s (22C for you cannucks)! Been nature journaling like a mad woman, Flambé is upset she’s not off on daily misadventures, and both Roy and I are attending Master Naturalist training (super fun). Oh, did I mention we sold BagoBago…. and now have a new toy … a MicroMinnie (Winnie) FLX, tow behind trailer …. About 22 feet, high clearance for back country trips, outfitted with solar, Lithium batteries, etc for 5 days off-grid. Great fun and we’re so much happier, since we can really get out there, and unhook the truck and get even further afield. What about you my dear! How’s your summer?

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  2. An interesting and rather large seed pod! Have you ever tasted them the way the Apache & Navajo prepared them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What interesting is that this is the only yucca species where their pods stay fleshy. No I haven’t tasted the yucca cakes. May need more directions for preparing them tho!

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  3. Great page and information. I’m glad you prevailed and achieved your goal. Sounds like you have some experimental cooking to do next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the comment Jean!

      Liked by 1 person

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