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Malheur Experiment Station
Oregon State University

Xerophyllum tenax

beargrass, squaw grass (Xerophyllum tenax)
Xerophyllum tenax
Common Names beargrass, squaw grass
Family Lily
Flower Color White
Plant Type Forb
Native Yes
Weed No

Bear Grass looks like a grass, but really belongs to the lily family. It grows to be about 4.5 feet tall. The flowers of bear grass grow on a stalk that can be 6 feet tall with many small flowers. Each flower is creamy white, and saucer shaped, and has a sweet aroma. The lowest flowers bloom first, creating a tight knot of buds at the top. The entire flower looks a little like fluffy, upside down ice cream cone. Bear grass tends to flower in 5 to 7 year.

Bear grass is a fire-resistant species that is the first plant to grow after a fire. Beargrass, and many other native plants, need periodic burns to produce strong, new growth. After a fire, beargrass sprouts from its rhizomes which lie just under the surface. Light fires of short duration are best. Intense fires which linger in the same place for a long time will kill the rhizomes under the ground, and prevent the beargrass from growing back.

Native Americans in Oregon, Washington state, and British Columbia areas have traditionally made beautiful baskets with the stems and roots of beargrass. When the leaves are dried in the sun in preparation for making baskets, they turn a creamy white. Combined with other materials of different colors, beautiful designs were woven into the baskets

Source: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/beargrass.htm

beargrass, squaw grass


For additional information please send an e-mail request to:
Dr. Clinton C. Shock
Clinton.Shock@oregonstate.edu

Malheur Agricultural Experiment Station
595 Onion Avenue
Ontario, OR 97914
(541) 889-2174
FAX (541) 889-7831

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