Monday, July 2, 2012

Primitive Skills - Cordage

Yucca filamentosa, I never really thought about the second part of that name, filamentosa, until I sat down to make cordage with the yucca plant.  It is certainly filled with filament! Yucca, or sometimes called Adam's needle because of the sharp needle like point on the end makes very strong cordage, fairly quickly.  First you scrape the green part of the leaf.  We did this very quickly using a quarter.  
Next you comb out and separate the fibers, you can use your fingers or a flower arranging "frog" or a pet comb.   Then, take a small section of the fiber and do a "reverse twist" while applying tension.  As you are twisting gradually work in additional small sections of the fiber so you continue to get one long piece of cordage.
Yucca is also used for its Saponins (soap) which are mostly found in the root but also in the leaves.  It is one of the best woods used as a hand drill for fire starting. An all purpose plant, the flowers are edible and fritter nicely.   It is native to the SW but grows throughout much of the US in full sun.


Steph said...

Wow! That's cool.

Angela McRae said...

So THAT is the name of the unusual plant I see out and about! And what a rich history--thanks as always for the education!

Marilyn said...

This reminds me too of New Zealand flax, which is used similarly. Love learning all those historic skills.