Wildflowers amaze me. We use such a small selection of the available plants in our yards and yet there are times when those found in the wild appear to be even better than the highly cultivated ones made available to us. On my trip to Bagby Hot Springs, I came across such a plant. Its official name is Xerophyllum tenax. At the base it looks like a grass and this gives it the common name of Bear Grass, but it is actually in the Lilly family. What was amazing about this plant is the flower which stood about 3 to 4 foot tall.
The flower is a creamy white and made up of many small flowers each one radiating out from the center. The lower flowers open first leaving a tight bud at the top. According to several websites, this plant blooms in 5 to 7 year cycles and after setting fruit, the plant dies. It reproduces both by seed and by underground rhizomes which makes it a flower that enjoys an occasional burn in the open forests that it occupies.
It was a plant used by native Americans for making baskets as the leaves are tough but flexible and, once dried, turn a creamy white which take dye easily.
Brought to you by Brian Bailey
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