Is This Dracaena Or Yucca – How To Tell A Yucca From A Dracaena

Is This Dracaena Or Yucca – How To Tell A Yucca From A Dracaena

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So you’ve been given a plant with spiky leaves but no further information, including the name of the plant. It looks familiar, rather like a dracaena or yucca, but you have no idea what the difference between a yucca and dracaena is. How can you tell which it is? Read on to find out how to tell a yucca from a dracaena plant.

Yucca vs. Dracaena

What’s the difference between yucca and dracaena? While both yucca and dracaena have long strap-like, pointed leaves, this is where the differences between the two end.

First of all, yucca hails from the family Agavaceae and is native to Mexico and the Southwest United States. Dracaena, on the other hand, is a member of the family Asparagaceae, which encompasses an additional 120 species of trees and succulent shrubs.

How to Tell a Yucca from a Dracaena

What other yucca and dracaena differences are there?

Yucca is most commonly grown as an outdoor plant and dracaena very commonly, an indoor houseplant. However, both can be grown either inside or out, depending on the region and type grown. Dracaena thrives in household temperatures and will even do well outside provided temperatures are around 70 F. Once temps drop below 50 F. (10 C.) however, the plant suffers cold damage.

Yucca, on the other hand, is native to the hot and arid regions of the Americas and the Caribbean. As such, one would expect that it prefers warm temperatures, and it does for the most part; however, it is tolerant of temperatures down to 10 F. (-12 C.) and can be planted in many climates.

Yucca is a small tree to shrub that is covered with sword-like, pointed leaves that grow to between 1-3 feet (30-90 cm.) in length. The foliage on the lower portion of the plant is commonly made up of dead, brown leaves.

Although dracaena also has long pointed leaves, they tend to be more rigid than those of yucca. They are also darker green and, depending upon the cultivar, may even be multi-hued. Dracaena plant also usually, although not always, depending upon the cultivar, have multiple trunks and look much more like a real tree than that of yucca.

There is, in fact, another similarity besides the pointed leaves between yucca and dracaena. Both plants can get fairly tall, but since dracaena is more of a houseplant, pruning and the choice of cultivar generally keep the plant’s size down to a more manageable height.

Additionally, on dracaena plants, when the leaves die, they fall from the plant, leaving a characteristic diamond shaped leaf scar on the stem of the plant. When leaves die on yucca, they tend to remain adhered to the trunk of the plant and new leaves push out and grow atop them.

SOLVED: Need an ID for gifted plant Dracaena or maybe a Yucca?

Years ago a friend gave me this plant. I didn't know what it was or where I needed to plant it. He said just stick it in the ground. It has remained in the 5 gal bucket all these years and been neglected most of the time.

It has produced offshoots that will send out roots and can be removed and stuck in soil to take off. The plant is over five feet tall now.

I feel guilty. I need to figure out where to plant and how to treat it and what the heck it is.

This is a closer shot of the leaves. They are soft and pliable without spikes

Just my opinion, but it looks too large, and don't have the pointy tips as a yukka. I am sure someone will come along and ID it for you. They are smart and quick here! Good luck, Misty

Thanks Misty! I was thinking most Yuccas had sharp pointed leaves.

I was surprised though that a Dracaena would be hardy in ground in zone 8A.

This message was edited Oct 31, 2007 9:29 PM

Well, I don't know nuttin in comparison to what others here will be able to tell you, but I just helped my sister dig one up the other day, and boy was it ever a pain! My neighbor also has them, even offered me some, but they just aren't my thing. At least not now anyway, whose to say I don't change my mind some day! LOL You are quite welcome, though! Good luck, Misty

I think it's a 'spineless yucca', Yucca elephantipes. I have one and I thought it might be a Cordyline, but the stems look different on those.

That is kind of why I was hesitant to plant it. Don't want it to spread like some Yuccas do. But they don't get this tall maybe?

I've not heard of that Claypa

thank you. Let me check it out.

There is also a Yucca that does not have the very sharp dagger point! My backyard neighbor has them all along the fence. When she first planted them I said Oh No, those things are so dangerous! When we first bought this house 32 years ago there were the very sharp pointed yucca's on the property. If you have been jabbed with one of those nasty things you remember it! My husband dug every one of them up.

Here's the sharp pointed one . we always called it the Spanish Bayonet Plant:

And here's another one that does not have the sharp point:

I believe there's still yet another that has no sharp point . but they all have razor sharp leaves like my Pony Tail Palm!

Some type of yucca are hardy here in my zone. Are those overwinter outdoor Pod?

Could also possibly be the Dracaena Draco:

This message was edited Oct 31, 2007 10:39 PM

outdoors and in this 5 gal pot. They never shrink from dry or cold or hot or freezing or drenching. A tough plant which makes me think maybe Yucca. Don't know.

Must be Yucca then . I don't think Dracaena would take real cold freezing temp's.

I'll stand by and see the possitive I.D. :-) The Spanish Bayonet Yucca is spectacular while in blooms. They thrive on neglect here.

Yes, the Spanish Bayonet is a very Beautiful Plant. And, that common name really fits that plant! It is very dangerous to have in your yard if you have kids or pets running around and playing! I remember backing into one back in the 70's while doing yard work . very painful!

This one has never delivered a bloom. Had hoped that would ID it but not to be.

hmmmm . in the same 5 gal bucket for many years and no blooms? Dracaena? hee hee . it's a toss up!

We used to have a palm tree that my parents brought back from Georgia (SHHHHHHH-LOL) that Mom kept in a narrow hallway, right outside my bedroom door! The yukka kinda reminds me of that dangerous thing. Very painful when you walk in to one of those bugers!

Mine hasn't bloomed either, but a woman who owned a flower shop for many years saw it, and said the blooms were spectacular. Maybe some day.
Pennsylvania's loaded with Yuccas in people's yards, they're hard to get rid of. Not sure what kind those are, though.

Just want to add that the Yucca elephantipes isn't sharp at all, really.

yes, even abuse. I wasn't sure I wanted it. The leaves and lack of blooms do favor Dracaena.

But the hearty profile screams Yucca.

This one doesn't have these spikes on the leaf tips. nor does this warning in the PlantFiles ( ) fit

Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Could I be barking up the wrong tree? Maybe something totally different.

hmmmm . how about the leaves themselves? Yucca leaves can be sharp along the entire leaf edge but I've never known of a Dracaena like that. Dracaena leaves are soft/smooth edged.

Your plant really does look like that Yucca elepahntipes! But, the leaves should tell the story. If they are soft to the touch when you rub your fingers down the leaf it is more than likely a Dracaena. If the leaves are kinda harsh feeling it is probably a yucca.

I will go look closely tomorrow. I honestly never thought of them as sharp or rough or spiked. I have to manhandle that big heavy pot and plant when I move it and really didn't remember the leaves attempting to molest me when I moved it. I will inspect them closer.

Does anyone know if the spineless Yucca blooms? Answered my own question here

It really looks like my dracaena . almost unkillable and if you snap a bit off and shove it in the ground it catches just about every time.:)

I agree it favors a Dracaena far more than a Yucca. Do you know which one you have? How cold are your winters for it to survive outdoors?

Well we had a bad Winter But it never blinked . I don't understand your zones but we got down to minus 5 cel. We had a few frosts.
since I don't know about what your conditions are I don't want to give you the wrong advice . whatever you have been doing can't be too wrong if it has been around for a few years . it will look more lush with some TLC . good luck :)

That is what I am afraid of. TLC and it might take over the world! LOL I will have to convert -5 cel. Off to work

I'm still kinda leaning towards the Dracaena Draco:

hmmm . found this site that says that the D. 'Draco' is a rare and endangered plant. Maybe you could check yours for that red sap?

My vote goes for Yucca elephantipes
The trunk also looks the same:

I Think it is the Yucca elephantipes. I have one. While in a container it was not sharp then I planted it in the ground and thats another story. They are not as sharp as some, but sharper than they were in the container. And keeps on a growin, tall and wide.

i vote yucca. that yucca is common here, and i had the same problem as you w/ identification. finally concluded that it is NOT a dracaena. no dracaena that i know of is hardy enough to not be burned by our winters at all. i have seen this in 8a no damage at all either. don't hesitate to plant it. it will thank you

I vote for Yucca for sure. probably elephantipes.

LOL. I mowed my lawn today and totally forgot I have 3 spineless yucca's that my backyard neighbor gave me that my husband planted in the backyard a couple of months ago. I will try and get go out between rain showes and get some photo's to post.

Looking at your pictures once again . I concur with everyone on the Yucca ID. I wonder if what my neighbor has and what she gave me is the Y. elephantipes?

ha ha ha If palmbob says so that is good enough for me.!

yeah that was what i was thinkin!

Yep . Palmbob Knows Plants!

If I can get my laptop to stay connected long enough I am going to upload a couple of photo's of the Spineless Yucca's my neighbor gave me:

Here's the first one . pulled all the bottom leaves off the trunk for this look:

Well, I'm going to have to go to my desktop machine . this laptop is not cooperating to let me post photo's!

Well, today, I saw the guy that gave me this plant

I asked him about it again. He called it a "corn" plant. Were it truly a corn plant, that would mean Dracaena. But I think that is just a plant colloquialism

a common moniker tagged on to an unidentified plant. He says his is in ground on a protected southern side of his home.

Chrissy - IF I converted right, 5 cel is not an abnormal temp for here. This plant has seen a rare snow or ice storm and many below freezing temps

(32 degree F) and shrugged it off.

I inspected the leaves closely today. There is no aggressive point and the edges of the leaves are burred ( similar to a fine sandpaper) but not sharp at all. The leaf edges of my ponytail palm are wicked in comparison. I look forward to your photos

When I removed a branch that had self airlayered with roots, I saw no Dragons blood so no to the Draco.

scares me into ignoring it in the hydraulic oil bucket for another 5 or more years.

I'll be honest, I see clusters of low growing Yucca in folks' yards around here and do not find that attractive. In a desert setting it would be but surrounded by green grass, no

especially when the wind has blown litter and trash into the Yucca and the homeowner is not inspired to get in there and clean it out. Not my style at all.

I think if I counted correctly, the Yuccas have it. I want to research more to see if I can ID the correct one. This plant may have grown this tall only because of the poor conditions it was forced to reside in. The roots had searched out thru the drain ports to reach moisture when I had failed to provide adequate moisture and no compost or fertilizer.

At any rate, I will mark it solved as a Yucca but will appreciate any information or photos y'all have that might isolate the specific Yucca it might be. I don't want to have to wade in and dig it up a few years from now. With the specific ID, I can better determine where to plant it and what to expect. Thanks to all for the links and information. pod

Propagating Yucca Plant

The easiest way to propagate yucca is with offsets of older plants. Divide the plant during repotting or carefully slice away the offset and pot up into a separate container. They can also be propagated by stem cuttings, using pieces of stem measuring at least four inches. Treat the ends of the stem cutting with rooting hormone before planting it in a fresh pot. Stem cuttings will quickly root themselves if the potting soil is kept moist (but not soggy).

Yucca grown indoors will likely not flower or bear seeds, so vegetative propagation is usually the only option.



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