Plant DetailShow Menu

Bear's Grass Eryngium yuccifolium

Phonetic Spelling
er-RIN-jee-um yuk-ki-FOH-lee-um
Description

Beargrass, or rattlesnake master, is an herbaceous perennial in the Apiaceae (carrot) family. It is native to open woodlands and tall grass prairies of the central United States and is also distributed across many eastern states. The genus name Eryngium comes from the Greek for a thorny or prickly plant, and yuccifolium refers to the leaves, which resemble yucca leaves. The common name may refer to previous medicinal use by Native Americans, although not necessarily for rattlesnake bites. It may grow 4 to 5 feet tall and spread 2 to 3 feet wide.

This plant does best when planted in full sun and in moist, well-drained soil. Although it adapts well to many soil types, including shallow rocky soils, it prefers dry, loamy sand with little organic matter. Propagate this plant through seed or divide plants in late spring or early fall. It will self seed in optimal conditions.

The stiff upright stems of this plant hold striking flower heads, and the unusual clumping foliage adds interest, providing coarse texture in the landscape. The flowers attract many beneficial insects to the garden. 

This plant works well in the middle of perennial borders or planted in small groups in open woodlands, naturalized areas, and pollinator gardens. Because the plant is tolerant of wet soils, it may be ideal for a water garden or pond planting. The flowers are attractive fresh or dried and make an interesting addition to a cutting garden. Leaving the plants uncut through the winter will add interest to any landscape. Choose a location carefully since the leaves end in stiff spines that could be unpleasant if planted near a walkway.

This plant was selected as the 2016 NC Wildflower of the Year, a program managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden with some financial support from the Garden Club of North Carolina.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Moles and voles feed on the crowns, especially in winter. The stems may fall over and need to be staked if the plant is grown in rich soil or in too much shade.

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Pinehurst Greenway Pollinator Habitat Garden, Moore County Crowder Park Prairie and Native Plants Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. synchaetum
    Coastal plain and wet savannas southeastern NC to FL
  • var. yuccifolium
    Found in open sites and prairies with some moisture
var. synchaetum, var. yuccifolium
Tags:
#water garden#fragrant flowers#perennials#white flowers#moths#native perennials#winter interest#accent plant#rabbit resistant#pond margins#NC native#summer flowers#deer resistant#nighttime garden#blue-green leaves#spiny leaves#native garden#self-seeding#cutting garden#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#flowers mid-summer#dried arrangements#larval host plant#NC Native Pollinator Plant#flowers late summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#border middle#small group plantings#wet soils tolerant#unusual flowers#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#Audubon#NC Wildflower of the Year#vole damage
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. synchaetum
    Coastal plain and wet savannas southeastern NC to FL
  • var. yuccifolium
    Found in open sites and prairies with some moisture
var. synchaetum, var. yuccifolium
Tags:
#water garden#fragrant flowers#perennials#white flowers#moths#native perennials#winter interest#accent plant#rabbit resistant#pond margins#NC native#summer flowers#deer resistant#nighttime garden#blue-green leaves#spiny leaves#native garden#self-seeding#cutting garden#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#flowers mid-summer#dried arrangements#larval host plant#NC Native Pollinator Plant#flowers late summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#border middle#small group plantings#wet soils tolerant#unusual flowers#butterfly friendly#moth larvae#Audubon#NC Wildflower of the Year#vole damage
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Eryngium
    Species:
    yuccifolium
    Family:
    Apiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The sap and roots were used in traditional medicine. Native Americans used the leaves to weave baskets and sandals.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    U. S. native
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts pollinator insects including wasps, flies, bees, and butterflies like monarchs and skippers. Soilder beetles eat the pollen. The rattle snake master stem-borer moth Papaipema eryngii) uses the plant as a larval host.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Type:
    Schizocarp
    Fruit Description:
    1/4" long brown seeds 2 per fruit.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Green
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The white, small dense (acorn, button, or ball shaped) flowers are composed of many tiny parts, tightly packed in globular heads 1 inch across and grouped in clumps of 8-10. Individual flowers have 5 white petals, 5 white stamens with brown anthers, a pistil with two white styles. They have a sweet honey-like smell and attract pollinators. They bloom from June to August and turn from a green white to a blue color at maturity.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are long and narrow, looking similar to a corn stalk or tulip leaf with parallel veins even though this plant is a dicot. The margins have filiform or spiny teeth.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stems that hold the flowers have an opposite arrangement grow 3 to 4 feet tall from the center of the rosette of leaves and resemble a pitchfork.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Water Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Predatory Insects
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Rabbits
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns