Xerophyllum is a North American genus of two species of flowering plants (Xerophyllum tenax and Xerophyllum asphodeloides) in the family of Melanthiaceae. These species have spiky leaves and small white flowers on long stalks. The flowers are slightly fragrant, held in a dense cluster atop a thick stem. They are unique looking and make a nice addition to perennial beds and containers.
The name “Xerophyllum” comes from the Greek words “xero” (“dry”) and “phyllon” (“leaf”).
Xerophyllum tenax is commonly known as “Bear Grass”, while Xerophyllum asphodeloides is also known as “Turkey beard”.
Xerophyllum tenax is the first plant to appear to “clear the land” after a fire, so it symbolizes rebirth and a new beginning.
Interesting facts about Xerophyllum:
Bear Grass (Xerophyllum tenax) in the USA
Xerophyllum tenax, commonly known as Bear Grass, is a perennial herb native to western North America. It produces multiple flower stalks that can grow up to 1,5 m (5 ft) in height. It has grass-like basal leaves at the base of the stalk and a cluster of small, dense white flowers at the top.
This plant is fire-resistant and is one of the first to recolonize burnt areas because its rhizomatous root can survive high heat. After a fire, it puts up fresh shoots from the rhizomes to form a new clump.
Bear Grass is an unofficial symbol of Glacier National Park, located in the state of Montana, USA.
The plant has medicinal uses. Its roots have been used to treat sore eyes, bleeding wounds, sprains and broken limbs.
Furthermore, its leaves are traditionally used by Native Americans to make waterproof baskets and dresses.
Xerophyllum has unique cream-colored flowers.
These plants can grow from 50 cm to 1,5 meters (2-5 ft) tall, with numerous small flowers growing on long flower stalks.
Xerophyllum prefers sandy or loamy soil that is well-drained.