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Beargrass · Xerophyllum tenax
A unique member of the lily family, beargrass sports large clumps of evergreen, basal grasslike leaves and a magnificent flower stalk up to 5 feet tall. Flowers are creamy white dense racemes on stem ends, blooming from May to August. Beargrass does not usually flower every year, but the foliage is an attractive addition to the garden. Beargrass grows in mountain forests and clearings from British Columbia, south to California and east to Alberta and northwestern Wyoming. Part sun/sun, low water, well-drained soil.
In 1806, from Fort Clatsop, Oregon, Lewis described Clatsop Indians making baskets with beargrass:"their baskets are formed of cedar bark and beargrass so closely interwoven with the fingers that they are watertight without the aid of gum or rosin; some of these are highly ornamented with strans of beargrass which they dye of several colours and interweave in a great variety of figures; this serves them the double perpose of holding their water or wearing on their heads; and are of different capacites from that of the smallest cup to five or six gallons; they are generally of a conic form or reather the segment of a cone of which the smaller end forms the base or bottom of the basket. these they make very expediciously and dispose of for a mear trifle. it is for the construction of these baskets that the beargrass becomes an article of traffic among the natives. this grass grows only on their high mountains near the snowey region; the blade is about 3/8 of an inch wide and 2 feet long smoth pliant and strong; the young blades which are white from not being exposed to the sun or air, are those most commonly employed, particularly in their neatest work."