Yucca (Biochemistry)

L. and others.



Homeland – subtropical and tropical zones of North and Central America, South Carolina, Florida, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, etc. Cultivated both at home and in other countries (Algeria, India, USSR, etc.).

Tree-like “agave” plants with stems (trunks) of different heights (in some specimens of J. brevifolia in California, the trunks reached 20 m in height and 110 cm in diameter). The leaves of all species are linear, rigid; white or greenish flowers in racemose flower arrows up to 1-2 m tall. There are stemless species (J. whipplei) with rosettes of basal leaves lying on the ground and throwing out giant magnificent flower arrows.


Yucca leaves contain steroidal saponins. Smilagenin and tigogenin were isolated from the leaves of J. filamentosa – yucca filamentata, markogenin from J. carnerosana, tigogenin from J. gloriosa – yucca famous (cultivated in the USSR), etc. In other words, the composition of yucca saponins is very diverse, as well as an amount that varies from 0 to 11%. Both depend on the species composition, place of growth and growing season. Under the conditions of Soviet Transcaucasia, J. gloriosa accumulates up to 2% tigogenin. Smilagenin and thigogenin are stereoisomers of sarsapogenin. Yucca leaves serve as an industrial raw material for the production of steroid saponins, which are further used for the synthesis of hormonal products.

The plant contains steroidal saponins



Most of the genins of these saponins are based on a steroidal structure that has a spiroketal group due to the oxidation of the side chain of 8 carbon atoms and the 16-OP group and the closure of E and F through C 17 .

Some sapogenins may be of the furostane type, without the P ring.


Saponins are natural substances that are glycosides, in which steroids or triterpenes can be aglycones (sapogenins). They are united by similar physical and chemical properties, among which the most characteristic is the ability of their aqueous solutions, when shaken, to foam strongly like soap, forming a stable, long-lasting foam.

In addition to surface activity, most saponins combine hemolytic activity and toxicity to cold-blooded animals.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *