Soapweed

(Yucca glauca) As with other members of the genus, the root was used like soap by the native Americans. Once the root bark is stripped off, the root can be pounded in cold water to make a lather. Blankets were washed in this way (Stevenson); in fact, the Navajo, in washing wool, prefer to use Yucca roots, because there is no grease or fatty substance in it, and they also say that they have a greater cleansing power than soap (Elmore). As with Datil (Yucca baccata) the special, ceremonial use is for hair shampoo - the Pueblo Indians used it as part of the ritual in initiation ceremonies (La Fontaine), though people like the Kiowa claimed it was an effective cure for dandruff and baldness (Vestal & Schultes).

The Navajo have other uses for Soapweed; the juice will produce a black dye, and the fibres provide them with basketry materials (Kluckhohn). Occasionally, it was used as a medicine. The Pomo, for instance, used the root to make a lotion to put on a poison ivy rash (Weiner), or sometimes, as with the Neeshenam, it was used to heal and cleanse old sores, being heated and laid on hot (Powers). Apparently, the Hopi used it as a strong laxative (Whiting). But it was also used as a fish poison.

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