While doing research for our latest database entry on “Yuca”, I found a lot of sites, videos and foodie articles that referred to the Yuca root as “Yucca”. This is plant blasphemy…..Yuca and Yucca are not interchangeable terms.
Yuca is a starchy tuber that’s serves as a staple crop in many parts of Africa, the Americas and Asia. It’s commonly known as Cassava and is sold in nearly every farmer’s market (feria) here in Costa Rica. According to the United Nations, Yuca ,”(Manihot esculenta Crantz) is the third most important source of calories in the tropics, after rice and maize. It’s a pest free, calorie rich starchy staple crop that thrives in hot climates with minimal watering. Yuca roots has more than double the carbohydrates per gram compared to potatoes. They’re rich in calcium, potassium and vitamin C and contain decent amounts of thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid. The roots don’t contain a significant amount of protein, however the leaves, if properly prepared do. You can see a video of Jodi making cutting and planting Yuca here.
Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Most yuccas are in the agave family. Some produce tall beautiful flowers while other grow as spiky ground plants. The “yucca flower” is also the state flower of New Mexico (Yucca Glauca).
In short, Yuca and Yucca are totally unrelated species. Check the pictures below to see the difference.