Is The Yuca Root The Same As The Ornamental Yucca?

Q: When I eat at Hispanic restaurants, they serve yuca root. I this the same as ornamental yucca? 

A: They are not the same, although I sometimes see “yucca” on restaurant menus. Yuca (cassava), Manihot esculenta, is a tropical plant whose starchy roots are enjoyed in all manner of recipes. They can be fried, steamed, or used as a potato substitute in any meal. The soft green leaves have 5-7 lobes. Yucca, on the other hand, has leaves that are typically stiff and sharply pointed, leading to the common names “Spanish dagger” and “Adam’s needle”. Yucca flaccida ‘Golden Sword’ and Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ have variegated leaves that are very attractive in the landscape. Huge spikes of white flowers emerge from yucca plants in early summer.