If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Temperate Plants

Xerophyllum tenax

(Pursh) Nutt.

Melanthiaceae

+ Synonyms

Helonias tenax Pursh

Melanthium spicatum Walter

Xerophyllum douglasii S.Watson

Common Name: Indian Basket Grass

No Image.

General Information

Xerophyllum tenax is an evergreen perennial plant growing from stout, tuberous, woody rhizomes. Tussocks of grass-like leaves up to 90cm long are produced, from which grow erect, unbranched flowering stems up to 180cm tall[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
,
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
].
The leaves were one of the most widely used and highly desirable materials for weaving baskets in northern California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Columbia Plateau and are still ommonly gathered. Leaves were often used as an article of trade with other tribes[
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
]. The plant was also harvested for food and medicines. It is often grown as an ornamental in gardens.

Known Hazards

The finely toothed edges of leaves can cut unprotected hands[
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
].

Botanical References

60
Title
Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Hitchcock. C. L.
Publisher
University of Washington Press
Year
1955
ISBN
-
Description
A standard flora for Western N. America with lots of information on habitat etc. Five large volumes, it is not for the casual reader.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.

Range

Western N. America - British Columbia to Alberta, south to California

Habitat

Open coniferous woods, dry ridges, rocky slopes, and clearings; at elevations from sea level to 2,300 metres[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. Moist places in open woods and clearings, at elevations from sea level to 2,100 metres[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
60
Title
Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Hitchcock. C. L.
Publisher
University of Washington Press
Year
1955
ISBN
-
Description
A standard flora for Western N. America with lots of information on habitat etc. Five large volumes, it is not for the casual reader.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height1.20 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Semi-cultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Xerophyllum tenax is hardy to about -20°c[
187
Title
Perennials. Volumes 1 and 2.
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Pan Books
Year
1991
ISBN
0-330-30936-9
Description
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
], especially if the roots are given a good mulch in the winter[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Requires a well-drained soil in full sun[
187
Title
Perennials. Volumes 1 and 2.
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Pan Books
Year
1991
ISBN
0-330-30936-9
Description
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
]. Plants are moderately shade tolerant, and grow best in the light shade of an open canopy of trees[
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
].. Prefers a fairly moisture-retentive sandy peaty soil[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Requires a damp peaty soil[
233
Title
Perennial Garden Plants
Publication
 
Author
Thomas. G. S.
Publisher
J. M. Dent & Sons, London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0 460 86048 8
Description
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
]. Plants can be difficult to cultivate[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
].
If left undisturbed, plants can form quite large colonies, spreading by means of their tough rhizomes[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Any particular plant may not bloom for several years but when it does it will produce a leafy flowering stalk that may be up to 180cm tall with numerous small white flowers. Individual colonies tend to flower in a 5 - 7 year cycle[
212
Title
A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers
Publication
 
Author
Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R.
Publisher
The Riverside Press
Year
1963
ISBN
63-7093
Description
Excellent little pocket guide to the area, covering 590 species and often giving details of their uses.
,
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
].
Plants are usually tolerant of fire - top growth is destroyed but the plants resprout freely from the roots[
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
].
Native N. Americans would burn the plants every 2 - 3 years, between mid summer and early autumn, in order to produce fresh now growth that was more easily picked and worked, as they were stronger, thinner, and more pliable[
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
].

Edible Uses

Root - baked[
92
Title
Early Uses of Californian Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Balls. E. K.
Publisher
University of California Press
Year
1975
ISBN
0-520-00072-2
Description
A nice readable book.
]. Roasted for several days before being eaten[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

Medicinal

The roots are styptic[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. A poultice of the chewed root has been applied to wounds[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. A decoction of the grated root has been used as a wash on bleeding wounds, sprains and broken limbs[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. The washed roots have been rubbed to make a lather and then used to wash sore eyes[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

Other Uses

The leaves become bleached nearly white when they are dried, and are used as a white overlay or decoration on items of basketry such as storage baskets, trinket baskets, flour trays, cooking baskets, soup bowls, hats, infant carriers, hoppers, sifters, and dippers[
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
]. The dried and bleached leaves are used for weaving into hats and capes[
207
Title
The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers.
Publication
 
Author
Coffey. T.
Publisher
Facts on File.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-8160-2624-6
Description
A nice read, lots of information on plant uses.
,
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].
A watertight basket can be made from the leaves[
21
Title
The Herb Book.
Publication
 
Author
Lust. J.
Publisher
Bantam books
Year
1983
ISBN
0-553-23827-2
Description
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
99
Title
Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology.
Publication
 
Author
Turner. N. J.
Publisher
British Columbia Provincial Museum
Year
1979
ISBN
0-7718-8117-7
Description
Excellent and readable guide.
,
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. This basket has been used as a container for cooking food[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
]. The fibres are split from the leaves and then used[
92
Title
Early Uses of Californian Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Balls. E. K.
Publisher
University of California Press
Year
1975
ISBN
0-520-00072-2
Description
A nice readable book.
].
The small leaves have been used to make dresses[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].
The leaves are harvested in the spring when they first starte to grow. The plants were sometimes burnt in the autumn to make harvest easier[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
,
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
]. The leaves were hung up to dry and become bleached, a process that could take up to 12 months, and were then scraped to make them smooth. Prior to using, the leaves were soaked in water to make them pliable, but if left too long they turned green[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
,
277
Title
Plants Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database with an excellent collection of fact sheets about native N. American plants.
].

The boiled root is used as a wash and tonic for the hair[
1050
Title
Fire Effects Information System
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.feis-crs.org/feis/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line information site with comprehensive information on over 1,100 species of plant. Mainly developed to supply information on the effects of fire on plants and animals, it also contains a wealth of other information on the plants
].

Propagation

Seed - it requires 3 - 4 months of cold stratification and so is besyt sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if possible, otherwise in early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Division as the plant comes into growth in the spring.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2018-10-20. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Xerophyllum+tenax>

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.