Portfolio: Medicinal Plants of the Sicangu Lakota
Yucca glauca Soapweed Yucca
Yucca glauca. Left: Group of plants at peak of flowering, © William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International. Right: close-up of flowers, © Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service.
Lakota name: hupésťola, means “sharp-pointed stem” (leaves).
Listen to Lakota Plant Name: hupésťola
Scientific name: Yucca glauca
Common name: soapweed
Lakota uses: Pulverized roots are mixed with tepid water, this tea was used for belly-ache. These roots were mixed with roots of uŋkcéla blaská (flat cactus) to help mothers when they cannot give birth; but they're in danger that this may make hokśiyuhapi śni pejúťa (“medicine for not give birth”). The root is also used for the making of soap; soaking the hair in a root solution is a vermin killer; it is said also to make the hair grow. Fumes from burning roots allow a horse to be caught and haltered easily.
Use by other cultures: Soap made from crushed roots is said to be a very effective treatment for dandruff and skin irritations. The roots are used for many things. They are made into a poultice and applied to inflammations, wounds, bleeding cuts, sprains, etc., but the rotten roots can also be crushed and boiled to make suds, and drinking theses suds is said to induce menopause in women, thereby making them infertile.
Secondary compounds: Soapweed roots contain a toxin that is more toxic to animals other than humans called saponin. Saponins are found in many common foods such as beans. Once you slow cook them, the saponins are destroyed.
Distribution and habitat: In South Dakota it is frequent to common on dry prairie knolls and exposed ridges, except in the NE. One of the most interesting and studied aspects concerning yuccas is the relationship between the genus Yucca and the genus Tegeticula yuccasella, also known as the Tegeticula moth, also known as the yucca moth.
Description: A 3-4 ft. wide clump of pale-green dagger-like leaves subtends (to underlie or located below) the 4 1/2 ft. flowering stalk of this yucca. The 20-30 in. long leaves are evergreen persisting for several years. Bell-shaped greenish-white pendulous flowers are followed by woody oblong cream-colored seed capsules.
Information on the Internet
- ToL Learner Level:
- Target Grade/Age Level:
- Type of Activity
- Classroom resource; Web-based resource
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State Education Standards
- South Dakota Education Standards
- 9-12.L.1.1. Students are able to relate cellular functions and processes to specialized structures within cells.
- 9-12.L.1.2. Students are able to classify organisms using characteristics and evolutionary relationships of major taxa.
- 9-12.S.1.1. Students are able to explain ethical roles and responsibilities of scientists and scientific research.
- 9-12.S.1.2. Students are able to evaluate and describe the impact of scientific discoveries on historical events and social, economic, and ethical issues.
- 9-12.N.1.1. Students are able to evaluate a scientific discovery to determine and describe how societal, cultural, and personal beliefs influence scientific investigations and interpretations.
- 9-12.N.2.1. Students are able to apply science process skills to design and conduct student investigations. (Synthesis)
- 9-12.N.2.2. Students are able to practice safe and effective laboratory techniques.
National Education Standards
- National Education Standards
CONTENT STANDARD A: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop
- Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
- Understandings about scientific inquiry
CONTENT STANDARD B: As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop an understanding of
- Structure of atoms
- Structure and properties of matter
- Chemical reactions
- Motions and forces
- Conservation of energy and increase in disorder
- Interactions of energy and matter
CONTENT STANDARD C: As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of
- The cell
- Molecular basis of heredity
- Biological evolution
- Interdependence of organisms
- Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
- Behavior of organisms
CONTENT STANDARD E: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop
- Abilities of technological design
- Understandings about science and technology
CONTENT STANDARD F: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of
- Personal and community health
- Population growth
- Natural resources
- Environmental quality
- Natural and human-induced hazards
- Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges
CONTENT STANDARD G: As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop understanding of
- Science as a human endeavor
- Nature of scientific knowledge
- Historical perspectives
About This Page
Classroom Project: Medicinal Plants of the Lakota Sioux
Lead-Deadwood High School
Lead, South Dakota United States
License: Tree of Life use only - Version 1.0
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to , Lead-Deadwood High School
Page copyright © 2008 1sagebrush5
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About This Portfolio
I would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their help with this project:
- Rev. Raymond Bucko S.J., Creighton University Department of Sociology and Anthropology
- My student mentor Devan, Kim Loeffen, Tony Beisiot, Wade Mackey, and Sharon Burns for their technical help.
- F.J. Doody, Buechel Memorial Museum, St. Francis, S.D.
- Ben Black Bear Jr. for his audio of Lakota names, St. Francis, S.D. (Author of the Introduction of Dilwyn Rogers' Book of Father Buechel's research.)
- Katja Schulz Managing Editor ToL
- And mostly, my students for their perserverence!
Lead-Deadwood High School
Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Robin Cochran-Dirksen at
Page copyright © 2008 Robin Cochran-Dirksen