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Xerophyllum tenax - Bear Grass


Bear Grass looks like grass, but is actually a lily. About 4 feet tall, its narrow grass-like leaves grow from the base of the plant and arch gracefully. When it blooms, foot stalks appear and produce hundreds of fragrant white flowers, so many that the clusters appear fluffy. Individual plants can take 5 to 7 years to bloom, then go to seed and die. They're replaced by more seedlings and an even grander sweep. A hillside covered with Bear Grass is breathtaking.

Native to open forests and meadows of the Northwest U.S., this is a lovely perennial for cool dry climates with rocky soil, anywhere in zones 5-9 where summers don't get too hot, the kind of places pine forests grow. It's one of the first plants to appear after a wildfire. Fresh foliage appears from rhizomes under the soil.

Bear Grass has long been used by Native Americans for weaving baskets and is a staple in most flower shops, where it's narrow leaves are drape gracefully from bouquets. The luxurious mounds of glossy, green foliage are lovely in any garden where the climate is right. Treat it like a wildflower - don't overwater or fertilize. This is a plant that's been doing fine on its own for centuries.



Seeds require cold stratification, if you are going to direct sow, sow in late fall and barely cover seeds with soil. If cold stratifying in the fridge, place seeds on the surface of your soil and barely cover. Pit in a plastic baggie or cover pot with plastic wrap and a rubber band. Cold stratify for four months. During this time, keep the soil consistently moist but not soaking wet


50 seeds.

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