Yucca filamentosa (Adam's needle)

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by Wyanokie, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Wyanokie

    Wyanokie Supporter Supporter

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    Coming off the tail of my sons and I processing some decent cordage with a few different plant fibers in my area, I really wanted to take a shot at processing Yucca. I had processed it once before under the guidance of someone much more experienced than me, and he showed me the pound and scrape method.

    I thought that Yucca was restricted to the South and Southwestern U.S., and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that one species (Yucca filamentosa) grows here in NJ. Its range is over the Eastern half of the U.S.-good news!

    I found some Yucca at a spot in the NJ Pine Barrens:

    BCUSA Yucca 9.JPG BCUSA Yucca 10.JPG

    Acquired some leaves:

    BCUSA Yucca 2.jpg
    I had been doing some research in the Bulletin of Primitive Technology about alternative methods of processing Yucca, namely pit roasting, steaming or boiling it, and then scraping the remaining starch off. I opted to try the boiling method.

    The leaves were boiled for one hour, then soaked for 24.

    BCUSA Yucca 3.jpg

    Instead of scraping, I wanted to give a shot to trying to rub the starch off under water, with a rubbing motion like you would use for dogbane. It worked very well! My 8-year old doing some rinsing:

    BCUSA Yucca 4.jpg BCUSA Yucca 5.jpg
    After rubbing off the skins and most of the starch, we let it dry for 24 hours, then rubbed it again to buff the rest of the starch off. All very easy and straightforward so far!

    BCUSA Yucca 7.jpg

    Once we got good fibers, I made a two-strand twist. This, unfortunately, was the most frustrating part and I did make a substantial mistake. First, it was very difficult to get a uniform twist with it. We've gotten good twists from other plant fibers, but it was almost like these fibers were a bit too slick for it, and ended up in some places with one strand being wrapped around another. The big mistake was me assuming that it would work out better if I wet it. It did work somewhat better, but in the end, when it dried, it shrunk considerably and there was too much space between the two strands.

    BCUSA Yucca 8.jpg

    So I learned some things, especially what to do different next time. All that being said, in the end I got frustrated and decided to go for broke and tried to break it, and it wouldn't. This fiber has incredible tensile strength. I look forward to trying again soon.

    Sorry all of the pics aren't the best. Thanks for looking!

    -W
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  2. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    Very cool. I'd have thought boiling would weaken the fibers. Thanks for the mini-tutorial.
     
  3. UAHiker

    UAHiker Guide

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    Might have to try this, seems easier than scrapping, just longer time...
     
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  4. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Very nice! Yucca is sure a tough plant. It's everywhere here in NM, but I found a few growing in upstate NY, too.

    Having tried a bunch of yucca processing techniques, I think boiling and scraping is probably the easiest method. I made a little tutorial on it awhile back, including a split-cane scraper tool that removes the flesh very efficiently: https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/boil-and-scrape-yucca-processing.217044/
     
  5. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    20FD2FC9-1AC7-447A-82A6-39BE07FEDEFF.jpeg

    For what it’s worth, I find the wire stripper notch on a SAK to be ideal for stripping out just the strong strands of fiber in yucca with little or no pulp. No pounding or boiling needed... which seems a good thing to me, since this is easier and since those could weaken the fibers. Just split the leaves into thin strips with the small SAK blade and run them through the notch with your thumb over it and the blade angled about 45 degrees.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019
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  6. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Keeper of the Clubhouse swear jar Supporter

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    hello,
    @Wyanokie Brother slightly O.T I did notice your son wearing his paracord wrist band within the thread. This reminded me of this year's HM Armed Forces Day (UK) 29th June 2019. I was asked by one of the Scots Regiment Veterans taking part if he could borrow my Scots yellow & red paracord wrist band your boys made for me. He said he wanted to show off the Scots Regimental colours on parade. I allow him to borrow such but not a GAW. It was worn with pride on parade in full show & later inquiries where it came from? I did say that both your boys from the USA gifted me a Scots snail steel striker & made two paracord wrist bands for me in the Saltire (blue & white) & the Royal Banner of Scots (yellow & red). :)
    Regards
    David
     
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  7. kcardwel

    kcardwel Hardwoodsman Hobbyist Supporter Hardwoodsman Bushclass III

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    I have had even good look with dead yucca leaves and just woven them like they were
     
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  8. Wyanokie

    Wyanokie Supporter Supporter

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    @DavidJAFO thank you for sharing that-I'm going to let them know, they will be very proud and happy!
     
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  9. Flint_2016

    Flint_2016 Rusty Hobbyist

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    Yucca grows around my area where people have to plant them,not growing wild.
     

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