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Xerophyllum tenax (Bear Grass)

Common Beargrass, Western Turkeybeard, Bear Lily, Pine Lily, Elk Grass, Squaw Grass, Beargrass, Turkeybeard, Helonias tenax

Xerophyllum tenax, Common Beargrass, Western Turkeybeard, Bear Lily, Pine Lily, Elk Grass, Squaw Grass, Beargrass, Turkeybeard, Helonias tenax, California Native Plants, California Native Perennial, white flowers
Xerophyllum tenax, Common Beargrass, Western Turkeybeard, Bear Lily, Pine Lily, Elk Grass, Squaw Grass, Beargrass, Turkeybeard, Helonias tenax, California Native Plants, California Native Perennial, white flowers
Xerophyllum tenax, Common Beargrass, Western Turkeybeard, Bear Lily, Pine Lily, Elk Grass, Squaw Grass, Beargrass, Turkeybeard, Helonias tenax, California Native Plants, California Native Perennial, white flowers
Xerophyllum tenax, Common Beargrass, Western Turkeybeard, Bear Lily, Pine Lily, Elk Grass, Squaw Grass, Beargrass, Turkeybeard, Helonias tenax, California Native Plants, California Native Perennial, white flowers

Sought for use as an ornamental in cultivated landscapes, Xerophyllum tenax (Bear Grass) is a stout, evergreen perennial arising from a woody, tuber-like rhizome. It forms a basal rosette of arching, tough, grass-like, olive green leaves, 12-40 in. long (30-100 cm). In late spring to late summer, depending on elevation and latitude, upright stalks rise well above the foliage and bear dense poker-shaped clusters packed with hundreds of slightly fragrant, creamy-white flowers, creating a highly attractive display. Bear Grass can take a few years to reach flowering stage. It is not a reliable bloomer in a garden setting but the leaves are particularly handsome. They and sold to the floral industry for use in floral arrangements. After flowering, the leafy tuft supporting the flower stalk dies, but young offset clumps will have already formed to replace the old. Bear Grass is usually considered to be long-lived because of its continual production of offshoots. Mostly found in western North America from British Columbia south to California and east to Wyoming, Bear Grass grows from near sea level to over 6,600 ft. (2,000 m) in open coniferous woods, dry ridges, rocky slopes and clearings. Bear Grass flower stalks are a delicacy for deer and elk and are eaten by other big game animals as well. Grizzly bears use the leaves as nesting material in their winter dens. Native Americans used the leaves to weave garments and baskets and ate the roasted rootstock.

  • Grows up to 2-5 ft. tall (60-150 cm) and 2-3 ft. wide (60-90 cm).
  • Best grown in full sun or light shade in medium moisture, well-drained soils. This plant grows on a variety of soils and is able to grow well on very shallow or rocky soils. It is moderately shade-tolerant. It survives but seldom blooms under a forest canopy.
  • Provides color and contrast to beds and borders. Effective in prairies, meadows and wildflower gardens.
  • Propagate by seed or offsets. Sow treated seeds (soaked in distilled water 24 hours and stratified 4 months in vermiculite). Seedlings take several years to flower. Offsets may be used as a faster source of new plants.
  • Native to Montana, the subalpine meadows and coastal mountains throughout the Pacific Northwest, from British Columbia to northern California and eastward to Alberta and northwestern Wyoming.

Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Melanthiaceae
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Height 2' - 5'
(60cm - 150cm)
Spread 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spacing 24" - 36"
(60cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, United States, Washington, Wyoming
Garden Uses Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
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Recommended Companion Plants

Picea engelmannii, Engelmann Spruce, Mountain Spruce, Evergreen Conifer, Evergreen Shrub, Evergreen Tree
Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas Fir, Blue Douglas Fir, Green Douglas Fir, Oregon Pine, Evergreen Shrub, Evergreen Tree
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Melanthiaceae
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Height 2' - 5'
(60cm - 150cm)
Spread 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spacing 24" - 36"
(60cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Native Plants California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, United States, Washington, Wyoming
Garden Uses Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Learn Now

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