Yucca schidigera is a plant endemic to the southwestern United States and northern Baja California, Mexico. Its distribution ranges from southwestern Nevada, Arizona and California in the United States, to the northern Baja California desert in Mexico (above the 28th parallel), however, due to environmental and governmental regulations it is only commercially harvested in Baja California, Mexico.
This plant can reach a height of 4 or 5 meters in a period of approximately 30 years or more, its leaves measure 30 to 105 cm long by 3 to 5 cm wide and are yellowish green in color, the flowers are globose and white or creamy in color and commonly purple at the base.
Yucca schidigera is found mainly in valleys with deep, sandy soils, gently sloping hills, and rocky ravines, at altitudes between 400 to 1,400 meters above sea level.
Today, it is mainly utilized as an ingredient in animal feed such as poultry, swine, cattle, pets and aquaculture.
In addition, it is used as a soil conditioner, surfactant and biological promoter in agriculture, as a surfactant agent in grain treatment, as well as for the treatment of wastewater and organic waste for the reduction of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and noxious odors.
Only the stem or trunk of the plant is used, Mexican law requires the preservation of this natural resource, and as such it is prohibited to extract the root system; therefore, the stem is harvested at the base, allowing the roots to continue the plants life-cycle and reproduce seedlings.
NOM-005-SEMARNAT-1997. SEMARNAT (Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources) regulates wild-harvesting to comply with the sustainable harvesting mandate. SEMARNAT also regulates and issues harvesting permits and guides or forest referrals that must physically accompany each harvesting and transportation of yucca stems that are delivered to a production or processing facility.
There are two main active ingredients in Yucca schidigera, Saponins and Glycocomponents.
Saponins. Have surfactant (detergent-like or surface-active) properties because they contain water-soluble and fat-soluble components. They consist of a lipid-soluble core, steroidal in structure, with one or more water-soluble carbohydrate side chains that form insoluble complexes with cholesterol.
Glycocomponents. Remains a largely unidentified compound. It acts as a binding system to retain ammonia in a non-toxic form in large quantities, thus the level of ammonia decreases in the plant tissues, subsequently, the ammonia becomes available to form various nitrogenous compounds, amino acids and proteins required by the plant to support its growth in desert conditions. Commercially, glycocomponents allow yucca schidigera to be utilized in livestock feed to help reduce environmental ammonia in animal husbandry and production; which is a very problematic issue within those industries.
Our commercial plantation is unique in the world; it currently has 500 hectares in different stages of growth. It was in 1996 that we started with the first 8 hectares and in 2008 it was awarded by the Mexican Government with the National Award for Forestry Merit in the category of forest plantations.