Beargrass Seeds (Xerophyllum tenax)
Famed for ancient ethnobotanical traditions, beargrass is not a grass at all, but rather a member of the corn-lily family. It’s also an icon of western wildlands, producing visually arresting 3- to 4-foot-high flower stalks composed of white flower clusters that arise from a basal clump of wiry, grass-like foliage.
Those long, wiry leaves, have made beargrass a preeminent fiber source for basketry and weaving. Aside from strength, durability, and water resistance, beargrass leaves turn white as they dry, and can then be dyed vibrantly with other colors.
We don’t have much experience with growing this plant from seed ourselves, but it appears to grow slow, and lives for a remarkably long time. Individual plants don’t appear to flower every year, but in our observations bloom most prolifically in years with abundant rainfall, or in post-fire conditions where competing vegetation is cleared away.
In the wild beargrass occurs across much of the West – from foggy coastal bluffs, to mountain meadows, to high elevation prairies – often co-occurring with red paintbrush, and sometimes various lupines or columbine. The roots of beargrass are reportedly edible, although we have not tried this ourselves, and as with all plants, positive field recognition should be a pre-requisite before eating!
Approximately 150 seeds (0.5 grams).