Montana Outdoors

June 4, 2017

Bear Grass is beginning to bloom.

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 2:13 pm

Bear Grass has just begun blooming and I encountered a small area where there were quite a few of them in full bloom. As usual, they are quite photogenic! These are growing in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, the site of yesterday’s hike, at an altitude of about 4,500 feet.

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Bear Grass

Bear Grass ~ Xerophyllum tenax

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29 Comments »

  1. Interesting flower heads. They remind me of blazing star liatris (Liatris spicata) in a way.
    Do bears eat it?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — June 4, 2017 @ 2:19 pm

    • I have read that bears do eat the fleshy leaf bases in the spring and that was how it got its name. I don’t really know but I suspect that it’s true to some extent. I have hiked through hundreds of miles of terrain that was home to a healthy bear population and also supported thousands of Bear Grass without noticing that the plants looked as though they had been damaged. But one time in the springtime 6 or 7 years ago on the trail that goes to Blossom Lake I saw dozens of Bear Grass that had been severely torn up at the base, consistent with damage that might have been caused by a large animal like a bear feeding on it and there was no other animal in that area that would. So I think they do, but it is not the highest priority on their grocery list; probably not even in the top ten.

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      Comment by montucky — June 4, 2017 @ 6:18 pm

      • It sounds much like how they treat our skunk cabbage; as a last resort when there’s nothing else.

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        Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — June 4, 2017 @ 6:33 pm

        • Quite possibly. I have visited the area where these are no dozens of times and have never seen such damage to any of them and it is an area with a lot of bears, but also a lot of other plants.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — June 4, 2017 @ 6:40 pm

  2. It’s very different from almost every other plant. Liatris maybe, as the commenter above says, but other than that, it’s pretty special.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — June 4, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

    • I’m not familiar with Liatris. These are very large flowers, probably an average of three feet tall and I have seen some over five feet. When they bloom in profusion it dramatically changes the look of the forest.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 4, 2017 @ 6:22 pm

  3. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by centralohionature — June 4, 2017 @ 2:44 pm

    • Yes, one of the prettiest when seen in their natural forest habitat.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 4, 2017 @ 6:25 pm

  4. Wow! They are spectacular! I’ve never seen them (or a photo) before. Very strange and beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by jpostol — June 4, 2017 @ 5:26 pm

    • They are amazing plants, native to only 6 of our western states plus western Canada. If you go to the right sidebar there’s a place to search my blog. If you enter “bear grass” there it will take you to this post, but just scroll down a couple of posts and you can see pictures of the forest literally filled with them.

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      Comment by montucky — June 4, 2017 @ 6:35 pm

  5. Great. You are indeed gift of God to your followers like me. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by nvsubbaraman — June 4, 2017 @ 5:43 pm

    • Thank you!. I post things so that folks who already like them can see them but also for those who have never been able to see what it’s like in the northwest back country and wilderness. There is a huge amount of beauty there!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 4, 2017 @ 6:37 pm

  6. This is interesting! My husband and I have never heard of Bear grass. We don’t have it in the east, as far as I know. Great photos of it! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by heartandsoul974 — June 4, 2017 @ 6:54 pm

    • It’s a very unusual plant. The blossoms are at the top of 3 ft tall stalks which can be seen for long distances. I grows only in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, British Columbia and Alberta.

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      Comment by montucky — June 4, 2017 @ 7:38 pm

  7. Such unusual plants! I’m perplexed about what the connection with bears might be?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by de Wets Wild — June 4, 2017 @ 7:33 pm

    • When bears leave their hibernation in the spring they are largely dependent on grasses and plants for food before berries form and ripen. Many folks believe that at that time they will eat the fleshy parts of the bear grass. My thoughts are that they do sometimes (because I’ve seen evidence of that kind of disturbance to the plants although very rarely). If so I think it is far down the priority list of springtime foods.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 4, 2017 @ 7:43 pm

  8. Absolutely gorgeous.
    It almost looks like a sphere covered in snow.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vicki — June 5, 2017 @ 12:08 am

    • Yes, they are awesome plants, and perfect decorations in the forest.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 5, 2017 @ 6:52 am

  9. What a fabulous collection of photos. I like the way you’ve captured the development of the bloom on different stems. They’re like some liatris in the sense that they bloom from the bottom up, but they also remind me of certain plantains, which have that same cone-like structure and bloom from the bottom. With the plantain, though, a ring of flowers works its way up. It doesn’t end up fully encased in bloom, like this does. I especially like the next-to-last photo, with new blooms in the foreground and fully blooming plants hidden in the shade.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shoreacres — June 5, 2017 @ 8:36 am

    • They have a lot of character and individuality. Bear Grass is a favorite of a lot of people because they are so large and bloom in such great numbers that they can be easily seen and recognized. When I was a kid we would see them from the highways at the mountain passes. They grow in mid to high elevations (above about 4,000 feet).

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      Comment by montucky — June 5, 2017 @ 3:44 pm

  10. That stuff is so cool. Do you know if we have it in northern AZ? I was just googling it and we have something called Bear Grass that looks entirely different to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Candace — June 6, 2017 @ 6:52 pm

    • I don’t remember seeing it in Arizona, and the USDA site doesn’t show it to be native there. They do show a species there with the common name “Parry’s beargrass” which is a different genus and species.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 6, 2017 @ 7:32 pm

  11. Extraordinary flowers! They remind me of sparklers, with a ‘fizz’ that seems to travel up the stem as they mature!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jo Woolf — June 6, 2017 @ 11:55 pm

    • That’s an apt and interesting way to describe them. I guess they are so big that they can’t all bloom at once.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 7, 2017 @ 7:11 am

  12. Gosh aren’t they photogenic … just lovely 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Julie@frogpondfarm — June 9, 2017 @ 11:01 pm

    • Yes, they are very photogenic, and their numbers are incredible this year. One can just sit or walk and take them in for hours!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 9, 2017 @ 11:14 pm


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