homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner
Xerophyllum tenax - (Purs.)Nutt.
Common Name Indian Basket Grass, Common beargrass
Family Melanthiaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry sunny hills and open woods[187]. Moist places in open woods and clearings, from sea level to 2100 metres[1, 60].
Range Western N. America - British Columbia to California.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Xerophyllum tenax Indian Basket Grass, Common beargrass

Xerophyllum tenax Indian Basket Grass, Common beargrass
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Xerophyllum tenax is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 2 m (6ft 7in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

X. douglasii. Helonias tenax.

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - baked[92].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Ophthalmic;  Styptic.

The roots are styptic[257]. A poultice of the chewed root has been applied to wounds[257]. A decoction of the grated root has been used as a wash on bleeding wounds, sprains and broken limbs[257]. The washed roots have been rubbed to make a lather and then used to wash sore eyes[257].
Other Uses
Basketry;  Fibre;  Weaving.

A watertight basket can be made from the leaves[21, 46, 61, 99, 257]. This basket has been used for cooking food in[257]. The fibres are split from the leaves and then used[92]. The plant is also used to decorate baskets[257]. The small leaves have been used to make dresses[257]. The plants were burnt every year. The leaves were harvested in the spring when they first started to grow out of the charred rhizome. Prior to using, the leaves were soaked in water to make them pliable, but if left too long they turned green[257]. The dried and bleached leaves are used for weaving into hats and capes[207, 257].
Cultivation details
Requires a well-drained soil in full sun[187]. Prefers a fairly moisture-retentive sandy peaty soil[1, 200]. Requires a damp peaty soil[233]. Plants can be difficult to cultivate[188]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c[187], especially if the roots are given a good mulch in the winter[200]. If left undisturbed, plants can form quite large colonies, spreading by means of their tough rhizomes[200]. Plants do not flower every year, there are often gaps of 5 - 7 years between flowering[212].
Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if possible, otherwise in early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division as the plant comes into growth in the spring.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Lisa Hansen   Sat Dec 13 2008
also usued extensivly in the floral trade, thanks i have been trying for years to find the botanical name, and where it grows as the wholesalers never know. It is known in the florist industry as bear grass
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Xerophyllum tenax  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

PFAF Newsletter

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.