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Xerophyllum tenax

Xerophyllum tenax
Xerophyllum tenax

The first of today's two photographs was taken yesterday morning of a plant in UBC's Alpine Garden. I wish I could claim credit for the second photograph, since that would mean I observed these plants en masse, but I can't. It's a public domain work from the US National Park Service, found via the Wikipedia entry for Xerophyllum tenax.

A native to dry, open coniferous forests at medium- to high-elevation mountains in some parts of western North America (distributon map | FNA treatment), Xerophyllum tenax is one of two species in the genus. An eastern North American counterpart, Xerophyllum asphodeloides, grows in similar habitats: pine barrens and dry mountain forests.

The leaves of bear-grass were (and are) used by indigenous peoples as material for weaving baskets and apparel (see the Plants for a Future entry on Xerophyllum tenax).

Photography resource link: Mastering the Histogram, an article by Chris Gamel for PhotoMigrations. “Mastering” is a fairly strong word to use – I'd prefer understanding, myself. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important things to comprehend about digital images. I look at the image's histogram immediately after taking each photograph to reduce disappointment when I later examine the images on my computer.


Xerophyllum tenax - Z5 - RHS Index of Garden Plants, Griffiths
Xerophyllum tenax - Z5-9 - A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickell, Cole, Zuk
Xerophyllum tenax - Z5 - Plants for a Future, www.pfaf.org

As always, when I see a group of flowers, or others like this my fanciful mind sees something else. In this one I see a whole croud of 'people' all gathered around that little mountain, as though waiting in anticipation of a grand speaker who may be about to come out and address the croud. See all their little noses pointing upwards, as though looking to the top of the mountain? I love this pic, and thanks for sharing it here.

This plant has recently captivated the interest of my friend Kate and myself and we found out about its inclusion in your garden at our local nursery. We are making wild gardens and would dearly love a specimen. They are available in the U.S. but not here! Any ideas? This plant ranks high on my list of must-haves along with Devil's Club (Echinopanax Horridum) which lived in the depth of a forest from my childhood and Indian Pipe of which I have a specimen. No sign of a nursery breeding those. Do you have a specimen of Devil's Club? Sincerely, Barbara of Gabriola Island

Barbara, the Native Plant Society of BC provides “the definitive list of native plant nurseries in BC” – - one of them should have what you're looking for (note: you'll likely have more success asking for Oplopanax horridus). Alternatively, you can ask on the forums (see link above "Post a Comment" where one of the many participants on there might have recently encountered these plants in a nursery.

Fraser's Thimble Farms has a listing for Xerophyllum tenax

The Spring doesn't arrive in Belgium. Frost and snow.
Do you think I can cultive this plant ?

Francine, we've had quite a bit of luck with germinating seeds I collected a couple years ago, but not as much luck getting plants to flower from an earlier collection. Might be possible to grow it for foliage at lower elevations, with the occasional flower.

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