Aside from a fire starter and a knife, cordage is one of the most important tools you can have in a survival scenario. Of course, we recommend carrying some 550 paracord as part of your survival kit, but what if your cordage gets lost or stolen? You’re going to have to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

Improvised cordage yucca plant

The Yucca plant is plentiful in the southwestern U.S., and its green leaves are easy to identify.

The Yucca plant can be found throughout most of the western United States, as well as Central America and South America. Its distinctive pointy, green, sword-shaped leaves are instantly recognizable—and that’s a good thing, because you’re going to want to find some Yucca to make cordage.

Improvised cordage yucca plant 3

A map showing the distribution of Yucca plant species in the United States. Source: Wikipedia

In fact, one of the most common varieties of the plant is Yucca filamentosa, which hints at the fact that its leaves are full of many strong filaments or fibers. Historically, Yucca plants were even referred to as “meat hangers” in some Appalachian regions, since the leaf fibers and sharp tips were used to puncture meat and hang it in the air for salt curing.

Improvised cordage yucca plant 2

Now we know Yucca plants are full of strong fibers, but how do you get them out? This video from Bob Hansler on YouTube shows each of the steps:

In case you can’t watch the video right now, here’s a rundown of the basic steps:

  1. Harvest several green leaves from a Yucca plant.
  2. Set a leaf on a hard, relatively flat surface, like a log or boulder.
  3. Obtain a hammering tool (such as a stone or hard stick) and a scraping tool (such as a knife or sharp stone).
  4. Hammer the Yucca leaf repeatedly to thoroughly crush it.
  5. Scrape away any remaining plant flesh with your scraper tool.
  6. Pull apart the fibers, and twist or braid them together as needed.
  7. Knot the ends to keep the braid intact. You’re done!

As with many useful plants, the Yucca can serve more than just this one purpose. Bob Hansler actually compares the plant to a natural Swiss Army Knife. We’ll be discussing more uses for this helpful plant species in a second post tomorrow, so stay tuned on

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