In early summer you will find Bear grass( Xerophyllum tenax) in the mountain areas. Bear grass is not only eaten by mountain goats, but elk, bighorn sheep and deer love it also. Supposedly, Grizzly bears do not really like it as much as other animals. Grizzly bears use Bear grass as a nesting material for their winter dens. Bear grass does not bloom every year, but when blooming, it produces beautiful stalks with 6 foot cream blooms. If visiting Glacier National Park or Whitefish Mountain Resort at Big Mountain in the early summer you may be lucky to see beautiful fields of this spectacular grass. Other names for Bear grass are: elk grass, squaw grass, Indian basket grass, and soap grass. Bear grass is not actually a grass, but a member of the lily family. In Glacier National Park the grass is referred to as “Glacier Lilies”.
Native Americans in the Northwest Region traded this plant to tribes from other areas. The tribes used the grass to weave baskets. Other eastern tribes used it to make tonic for sprains.
Some gardeners in the northwest grow Bear grass in their gardens. I have only seen Bear grass out in the open at Glacier and Big Mountain.
I snapped this photo 8 years ago at Whitefish Mountain Resort at Big Mountain.