Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is a common wildflower found in Glacier National Park and this year has produced prolific blossoms, especially near park headquarters on the west-side of the park.
Beargrass can bloom whenever climatic conditions are ideal, not necessarily every seven years as common myth suggests. A single plant may have numerous basal rosettes on a common root system. Each rosette will bloom only once. Factors for abundant plant blooming include ideal amounts of spring rainfall and moisture present in the soil. While some beargrass can be found blooming every year, park managers note that mass blossoming of beargrass typically occurs every five to ten years in Glacier National Park. Blooming can begin in late May in lower elevations and continue into August in the high country.
The plant was first called beargrass by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, 19th century explorers of western America. At that time "Bear grass" was a common name for yucca (commonly called soapweed today), which bears a superficial resemblance to beargrass. Native Americans have used beargrass leaves for basket weaving and roots were used to treat injuries. Other common names for this plant include bear lily, pine lily, elk grass, squaw grass, and turkeybeard.
Visitors are encouraged to experience the abundance of beargrass in Glacier National Park this year, but are reminded that picking flowers or collecting plants is prohibited within the park.
Hiking Glacier National Park