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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Xerophyllum tenax

Beargrass

Flowering Period: May, Jun, Jul, Aug May June July August
Flower color: white
Full sun Mostly sunny Partial sun
Moist soil Dry soil


At a Glance: Forms a tall grass-like clump of tough leaves topped by a large dense cluster of white flowers.

Height: 3-5 feet (1-1.5 meters).
Growth Form: Herb.
Leaves: Grass-like, in large basal clumps; margins are finely toothed (barbed); size: to 90 cm long, 1.5-4 mm wide; color: green.
Flowers: Tiny, white, fragrant flowers on long stalks in a showy pyramidal terminal cluster on a long stem; 6 petal-like sepals and stamens; flowers irregularly every few years; stem dies after fruiting.
Flowering Period: May, June, July, August.
Fruits: Only a few small seeds per capsule; shape: oval 3-lobed capsule; size: 6 mm long.

Xerophyllum tenax
Photo © 2004, Starflower Foundation
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Sun/Shade Tolerance Hydrology Elevation Range
full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%

wet
moist
dry

Wetland Indicator Status:
low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
Tolerates a wide range of soils.
sandy soils
gravelly soils
clay soils
muddy soils
peaty soils
well drained soils
shallow soils
deep soils
acidic soils
basic soils
humic soils
nutrient rich soils
nutrient poor soils
mineral soils
organic soils

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites

Wildlife Value
Berries
Seeds
Nectar for hummingbirds
Nectar for butterflies
Host for insect larvae
Thickets and shelter
Thorny or protective cover

Mammals: Bears eat the fleshy leaf bases in springtime; also forage for other mammals, large and small, including elk and mountain goat.


Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts
Material Uses: Native peoples made baskets, hats and capes with the leaves. They were especially used for fine overlapping, trimming, and ornamentation. Leaves were a valuable trade item.
Landscape Uses: Does not flower every year.
Ecological Importance: Dominates the forest under story in many Cascade sub-alpine forests; wildfire triggers flowering.

Name Info: Xerophyllum means dry leaves, tenax means tough for the usefulness of the leaves in clothes and basket making.


Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.