Mojave yucca: Yucca schidigera, agavaceae (agave family)
Yuccas are one of the most common plants in the western US, and are fairly easy to recognize. In this area, four types of yucca can be found: mojave yucca, banana yucca (less common), our lord's candle, and the joshua tree. All four plants bear stiff, sharp leaves that reach out from the ground or along a trunk in a radial, explosive manner. The mojave yucca is easy to distinguish, as the large leaf bursts grow on short trunks, as opposed to hugging the ground.
As far as human use, this is one of the most versatile resources in the wild. The leaves of certain yucca species make sturdy fibers that can be extracted, and were traditionally used to make baskets, sandals, and cordage. The mojave yucca contains high levels of saponins, so for the DIYers out there, the main ingredient for a homemade shampoo or detergent might be growing in your backyard. The fruits, blossoms, and sometimes the stalk have long been used as a food source for people living in the desert—next month's HDTK is featuring yucca, so if you'd like to taste, join us on May 15th at the community center! More info on yucca can be found here: http://www.sarahwitt.net/hdtk/#/hdtk-archive/