Alright, I've been hearing this persistant rumor that the seed pods of the Joshua Tree, Yucca brevifolia, are edible. Not just in the sense of "it won't kill you," but like something you might actually want to eat. I'm talkin' about stuff like this:
The stems can be baked, and the blossoms, minus the bitter centers, can be cooked and eaten. The young flower stalks are edible. The flowers are edible raw or cooked as a potherb. Check them for insects before cooking or eating them. The seed pods and seeds are edible when they are young, raw or baked in ashes. They can be sliced, dried, and stored. They taste similar to banana.
Similar to the most bitter, alkaline bananas you can imagine, I guess...
Fruit of the Joshua Tree
The greenish-brown fruit of the Joshua Tree is oval and somewhat fleshy. The 2- to 4-inch-long fruit grows in clusters and is edible. According to "The Oxford Companion to Food," mature pods can be roasted and have a sweet, candy-like flavor. Each fruit contains many flat seeds, which are released on the ground when a fruit dries on the tree and falls to the ground in late spring.
Flowers and Pollination
The flowers of the Joshua tree are bell-shaped, slightly longer than an inch and have six creamy, yellowish-green sepals. The flowers are grouped into clusters, have an unpleasant odor and blossom mostly in the spring. The Joshua Tree, like most yuccas, relies on a single species, the female pronuba moth, for pollination. No other animal transfers the tree's pollen. The moth lays her eggs in the flowers and the hatched larvae feed on the seeds contained in the fruit.
And finally -
Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Root; Seed; Seedpod.
Flowers - cooked. The flower buds, before opening, can be parboiled in salt water to remove the bitterness, drained and then cooked again and served like cauliflower. The opened flowers are rich in sugar and can be roasted and eaten as candy. Fruit - cooked. The fruits can be roasted then formed into cakes and dried for later use. Root - raw, boiled or roasted. Seed. Gathered and eaten by the local Indians. No further details are given, but it is probably ground into a powder and mixed with cornmeal or other flours and used for making bread, cakes etc. Immature seedpod. No more details given. [this is credited as Joshua Tree, but might actually be generic yucca]
If I were one of the locals; Cahuilla, Chemhuevi, Serrano et al, I'd tell the settlers to eat one just for a laugh.
Couple o' things: this has been one of the best years ever for Joshua Tree blooms, although now most of the bloomin' is over and they're poding up. Edibility? So far, so gross. So some kids have been hospitalized for eating a spoonful of cinnamon on a dare? So what? Doesn't even compare to the dreaded yucca pod. So if any of y'all actually have a recipe for Joshua Somethin'-or-Other I'd love to hear about it, 'cause it sure don't taste like banana!