Bear Grass, also known as turkey beard, squaw grass, elk grass, and soap grass.
Bear Grass – Umbrella Falls in the background
Actually a member of the lily family, it grows in subalpine meadows from British Columbia south to California, and as far east as Montana and Wyoming.
It is sometimes referred to as fire lily, as the rhizomes survive wildfires and it is often the first flower to bloom repopulate the landscape after such an event.
Bear Grass is more than just a wildflower. Native tribes had many uses for this plant. Poultices of the roots were made to treat wounds.
The leaves a favorite basket making material – as they dry they become tough and durable, are easily dyed and made into watertight vessels.
I like it because it’s pretty
Image courtesy of Maryhill Museum of Art – http://www.maryhillmuseum.org/
. Right now these flowers are reaching peak bloom. You can find them almost anywhere around Mount Hood, above pass level. The snow free slopes of Mount Hood Meadows are a particularly good spot to see them. Or, if you are traveling through Government Camp on your way to mountain adventures, you will see them almost everywhere along side the highway.
Bear Grass Meadow at Mount Hood Meadows
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