General: Perennial herb from a short, stout, somewhat woody rhizome; flowering stems erect, robust, 0.5-1.5 m tall.
Leaves: Basal leaves numerous in large clumps, rigid, wiry, narrowly linear (grass-like), 20-90 cm long, 1.5-6 mm wide, harshly rough-margined with tiny teeth; stem leaves several to many, reduced upward and eventually bract-like.
Flowers: Inflorescence a dense, pyramidal, terminal cluster, at first bulbous and nippled, later elongating, 10-40 cm long, of numerous, stalked flowers, the stalks slender, 2-5 cm long; flowers white to cream, saucer-shaped, of 6 similar, distinct tepals, the tepals oblong, 5-10 mm long; stamens 6; pistil 1, 3-chambered.
Fruits: Capsules, broadly egg-shaped, 3-lobed, 5-7 mm long; seeds oblong, 2 to 5 in each chamber, 3-4 mm long.
Bear grass is a spectacular BC native plant that remains uncommon in cultivation, probably because it can take some time to reach flowering size. Bear grass looks like a grass but is actually from the lily family. Its fine, shiny, toothed grass-like foliage forms an attractive evergreen mound. Its dramatic cone-shaped flower spikes can reach six feet in height. The flowers are creamy-white and fragrant. Evenly moist, well-drained soil in part shade to sun.
Note Author: Gary Lewis, Phoenix Perennials
Ecological Framework for Xerophyllum tenax
The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range. (Updated August, 2013)
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2020-09-18 1:53:53 AM
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