Home Native Plant Network
NPN Protocol Details Image

Xerophyllum (tenax)

Tara Luna
USDI NPS - Glacier National Park
West Glacier, Montana 59936
(406) 888-7835

Family Scientific Name: Liliaceae
Family Common Name: Lily Family
Scientific Name: Xerophyllum tenax (Pursh) Nutt.
Common Name: Beargrass
Species Code: XERTEN
Ecotype: Subalpine meadows, Logan Pass, 2032m elev.ΓΏ
General Distribution: X. tenax occurs in open woods and clearings, on well drained soils, from near sea level on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington to over 2700 meters in the Rocky Mountains. It ranges from B.C. to California, east to the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Idaho, Montana,
and northwestern Wyomimg.
It can be found in all soil types, but prefers xeric to subxerix and submesic sites. It is moderately shade tolerant and can be found in the understory of subalpine forests or in open sites on high ridges and slopes.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Stock Type: 160 ml conetainers
Time To Grow: 15 Months
Target Specifications: Stock Type: Container seedling.<br> Height: 30 to 40 true leaves,10 cm<br> Caliper: n/a<br> Root System: Firm plug in conetainer.
Propagule Collection: Seeds are collected in late August and early September when capsules turn tan and open. Seeds are light tan at maturity. Seeds are stored in paper bags in a well ventilated drying shed prior to cleaning.
Propagule Processing: Seeds are cleaned at NRCS using a hammermill and air fan.
Seed longevity: at least 5 years at 3 to 5C in sealed containers.
Seed dormancy is classified as physiological dormancy.
Seeds/Kg: 448,000/kg
% Purity: 100%
% Germination: 80 to 100%
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seeds are imbibed in distilled water for 10 minutes and placed in fine mesh bags buried in moist peat moss under refrigation at 1 to 3C.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Greenhouse and Outdoor Nursery growing facility.
Sowing Method: Direct Seeding. Cover seeds with a perlite mulch on surface of container and irrigate thoroughly.
Growing medium used is 70% 6:1:1 milled sphagnum peat, perlite, and vermiculite and 30% #2 grade perlite.

Greenhouse temperatures aremaintained at 21 to 25C during the day and 16 to 18C at night. Seedlings are hand watered and remain in greenhouse until mid May. Seedlings are then moved to outdoor nursery for the remainder of the growing season.
Seedlings are irrigated with Rainbird automatic irrigation system in early morning until containers are thoroughly leached.
Average growing season of nursery is from late April after snowmelt until October 15th.
Establishment Phase: Seedlings must have well aerated growing medium and must dry down between irrigations.
Length of Establishment Phase: 4 weeks
Active Growth Phase: Seedling growth is slow in the absence of mycorrhizal inoculant. A significant increase in growth rate was observed in 1st year seedlings that were inoculated.
Bear grass forms a fleshy taproot. Plants are fertilized with Fish emulsion fertilizer 5:1:1 during the growing season. A tuft of 20 to 30 true leaves and a central taproot develops by the end of the season.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 16 weeks
Hardening Phase: Plants are fertilized with 10-20-20 liquid NPK at 200 ppm during August and September. Irrigation is gradually reduced in September and October. Plants were given one final irrigation prior to winterization.
Length of Hardening Phase: 4 weeks
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Total Time to Harvest: 2 years for 800 ml container and 1.3 years for 160 ml conetainers.
Harvest Date: July
Storage Conditions: Overwinter in outdoor nursery under insulating foam cover and snow.
Length of Storage: 5 months
Other Comments: Seedlings, although slow to produce, are the only viable means of propagation. Offshoots collected from the wild fail to establish in containers. Wild plants which form clumps of offshoots which may not flower for years. Massflowering occurs sporadically every few years.
The flower stalks are eaten by deer, elk, mountain goats and bighorn sheep.
Beargrass is rated as good for longterm revegetation and erosion control.
References: Flora of the Pacific Northwest, Hitchcock and Cronquist, Univ. of Washington Press, 7th printing, 1990.
Seed Germination Theory and Practice, Second Edition, Deno, Norman, published 1993.
Glacier Park Native Plant Nursery Propagation Records, unpublished.
Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination, Baskin and Baskin, Academic Press, 1998.
Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants, Rose, R., Chachluski,C., and Hasse, D., Oregon State University Press, 1998.


Luna, Tara; Evans, Jeff; Wick, Dale. 2008. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Xerophyllum tenax (Pursh) Nutt. plants 160 ml conetainers; USDI NPS - Glacier National Park West Glacier, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/05/08). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

Personal tools