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Foothill Nolina, Beargrass, Basketgrass, Sand Beargrass
Nolina erumpens

Agavaceae, Nolinaceae, Liliaceae

The igneous soils along the arroyos and the limestone rocky clay of grassy hills, from 2100 to 7500 feet in the Trans-Pecos and Northern Mexico provide a home for the foothill nolina. Several hundred 2- to 3-foot-long by 1/2- to 1-inch-wide, thick, carinate (keel shaped, with a longitudinal ridge or keel), concave or convex leaves combine to form our largest nolina which reaches to around 8 feet high. The leaves are strongly serrulate (minutely toothed) and usually have numerous woody fibers which appear to be irregularly torn. It can become too large and imposing for many sites, but with sufficient space and scale this beargrass would combine well with yuccas, agaves and other xeric shrubs as an outstanding specimen plant. Thick clusters of small greenish-white to rosy flowers rise on 2- to 8-foot stalks and may reach 4 to 8 feet above the ground. The long leaves or their fibers were used by Native Americans for weaving into mats and baskets. Sheep and goats are especially fond of eating the young flowers, and may occasionally be poisoned by grazing on the leaves.

Plant Habit or Use: groundcover
small shrub

Exposure: sun
partial sun

Flower Color: white; greenish white to creamy white

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: inflated capsule

Height: 8 feet

Width: 6 feet

Plant Character: evergreen

Heat Tolerance: very high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: alkaline

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7

Additional Comments: Nolinas are polygamo-dioecious, that is: they usually have male and female flowers on separate plants, but each plant also has a few perfect flowers (male and female flower parts on one flower).

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