Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Xerophyllum tenax
beargrass, western turkeybeard

Distribution: Occurring in the mountainous areas of Washington except in the southeastern region of the State; British Columbia south to California, east to the northern Rocky Mountains.

Habitat: Open woods and clearings, from near sea level on the Olympic Peninsula to high elevations in the Rockies.

Flowers: May-August

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Perennial herbs from a short, thick rhizome, with dense clumps of elongate, wiry, grass-like leaves, the unbranched, leafy flowering stalks up to 15 dm. tall.


Basal leaves scabrous, 1-6 dm. long and 1-4 mm. broad; cauline leaves numerous, grass-like, reduced upward.


Inflorescence a terminal raceme, elongating up to 5 dm. in late flower; pedicels slender, 2.5-5 cm. long; perianth nearly rotate, cream colored; tepals 6, distinct, oblong, 6-8 mm. long; stamens 6, at least as long as the tepals.


Capsule 5-7 mm. long, 3-lobed.

Accepted Name:
Xerophyllum tenax (Pursh) Nutt.
Publication: Gen. N. Amer. Pl. 1: 235. 1818. 1818.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Helonias tenax Pursh
Xerophyllum douglasii S. Watson
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Xerophyllum tenax in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Xerophyllum tenax checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Xerophyllum tenax atlas page.

CalPhotos: Xerophyllum tenax photos.

USDA Plants: Xerophyllum tenax information.

72 photographs:
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