Well-loved, well-known and admired, beargrass is a spectacular and charismatic wildflower that inhabits dry, rocky, mountainous regions in the western United States. Although beargrass has perennial, grass-like leaves and looks like a bunchgrass when not in flower, it is not really a grass at all; it is a member of the corn lily (Melanthiaceae) family, and is no longer classified in the lily (Liliaceae) family. The genus “Xerophyllum” translates to dry leaf, and the specific epithet “tenax” translates to tough or tenacious. The common name, beargrass, comes from the observation that bears like to eat the young, fleshy stems. The white flowers are tightly packed at the tip of the flowering stalk and grow 1′-4′ tall, opening from the bottom up and taking on many shapes as they mature. En masse in nature beargrass puts on an amazing display. It prefers well-drained but moist soil in winter and spring, but it can dry out in late summer and is fairly drought-tolerant. Rich yet cobbly, rocky, or gravelly soil is best. Tolerant of full sun to part shade. Beargrass is an important species for basketry. Many Native American tribes used prescribed fire to burn beargrass in order to stimulate fresh new foliage that is better suited to basket making. Seed germination requires at least 12 weeks or 4 months of cold stratification. Deer resistant. Nearly 30 species of insects have been documented to use beargrass, including many pollinators such as bees, beetles and flies.
Seed Germination Instructions
90-120 days cold-moist stratification. Sow outside in fall.