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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Beargrass - Xerophyllum tenax

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 5

External Links

General Description
Glabrate, rhizomatous perennial. Stems leafy, erect, 50–120 cm. Leaves: basal, linear, wiry, scabrous on the margins, 15–60 cm × 2–4 mm, forming large tussocks; cauline leaves alternate, similar. Inflorescence a terminal raceme, expanding from hemispheric to linear-oblong and up to 40 cm long; pedicels ascending, 2–4 cm long. Flowers regular, star-shaped; tepals white, separate, narrowly oblong, 5–10 mm, spreading; stamens longer than tepals; styles 3. Fruit a globose, 3-lobed, several-seeded capsule, 5–8 mm long (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Species Range

Range Comments
BC, AB south to CA, ID and MT (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 6237

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Coniferous forest, often where fire has reduced tree cover, avalanche slopes, meadows; montane, subalpine (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Hitchcock, C. L., A. Cronquist, M. Ownbey, and J. W. Thompson. 1969. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part I: Vascular Cryptogams, Gymnosperms and Monocotyledons. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 914 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Conway, T.M. 1982. Response of understory vegetation to varied lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) spacing intervals in Western Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bpzeman, MT: Montana State University. 76 p.
    • Johnson, T. W. 1982. An analysis of pack and saddle stock grazing areas in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. M.Sc.Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 105 p.
    • Picton, H.D. 1959. Use of vegetative types, migration, and hunter harvest of the Sun River elk herd, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 39 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Beargrass — Xerophyllum tenax.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from