Beargrass, Swordfern, & Other Foliage

Beargrass

Beargrass imgBeargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is a grass-like herb of the lily family that grows in clumps on well-drained soils up to elevations of around 5,500 feet. Its native range extends from British Columbia to California and out to the Rockies. It occurs on cool upper slopes and does well in openings, ridges, and meadows and persists as an understory plant in coniferous forests. It does well after disturbance and sprouts back from its root system after fires.

Flowering and fruiting happens in multiple-year cycles and occurs from May to August. In years when flowers are produced, they bloom in mid-summer forming stalks of white that are visible from a distance.

Although plants and seed are commercially available, beargrass is not easily cultivated or transplanted.

Ecology

Beargrass is a long-lived species that helps to re-vegetate and stabilize disturbed sites. Its leaf bases are an early food source in the spring for bear, mice, and pocket gophers. The leaves over-winter and serve as year-round cover for small animals and as food for deer and elk.

Traditional uses of beargrass include the use of leaves for baskets, garments, and decorations and the use of roots as a poultice applied to wounds to stop bleeding.

Commercial uses of beargrass include the use of fresh, dried, dyed, and preserved leaves that are used in floral arrangements or for basket weaving material.

Collection on the Rogue River – Siskiyou

On the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest a permit must be obtained prior to removing forest products including beargrass foliage above Incidental-Use amounts. Only the leaves may be harvested, and they must be cut above the root system at or above the leave base. The root system must be left undisturbed to ensure good re-growth following harvest.

Beargrass leaves commercially harvested are from the current year’s growth and must be clear of soil and brown tips and are usually formed into bunches. Harvest typically takes place in the late fall and winter. Choosing only those leaves that you can reasonably use or sell promotes a stronger plant that will regenerate and produce better foliage in the future.

Following low-impact /ecologically sensitive collection techniques will support sustainable management and conservation of this species and help maintain a sustainable and respected harvesting tradition.

Beargrass permits are typically available on all Ranger Districts. Please call the District Office where you are interested in harvesting to check for current availability before you head out to obtain a permit. Refer to our Product Price List for current permit costs.

Swordfern

Western SwordfernWestern swordfern (Polystichum munitum) is a common and widespread fern that inhabits moist forests, wooded hillsides, and slopes at low to mid elevations. Western swordfern ranges from Alaska to California and eastward to northern Idaho and Montana.

Fronds (leaf blades) unroll by May with spores reaching maturity by late July. Swordfern transplants well and can be cultivated; plants are commercially available.

Ecology

Western swordfern has a limited ability to resprout from its root system after fire, and the plant can produce millions of spores that have the ability to colonize areas after fire. Elk, deer, and black bear forage on the plant.

Traditional uses of swordfern include the use of leaves for protective layers in ovens, as a medicinal aid and dressing, and as flooring and bedding.

Commercial uses include the use in floral arrangements as a background or filler, the use as a decorative either in its natural color or dyed, and as a landscaping plant.

Collection on the Rogue River – Siskiyou

On the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest a permit must be obtained prior to removing forest products including swordfern foliage above Incidental-Use amounts. Under this permit type, only the fronds (leaves) may be harvested and must be cut above the root system (for transplants refer to that respective page). The root system must be left undisturbed to ensure good health following harvest. No more than one third of the frond blades may be harvested from a plant at any time. This keeps plants healthy and ensures that they will continue to produce new fronds that are of sufficient quality and size in following years.

Fronds commercially harvested must be green, healthy, free of dirt and insect damage, and at least 65-70 cm (25.6 – 27.6 in) long. Fronds are usually harvested using a specialized small blade that is curved and attached to a ring that fits over one’s finger. Harvested fronds are packed into bunches of 52 frond blades that are stacked flat with groups of bunches wrapped in burlap to protect them.

Choosing only those leaves that you can reasonably use or sell promotes a stronger plant that will regenerate and produce better foliage in the future. Species identification is crucially important for this species in order to protect species such as the California swordfern (Polystichum californicum) which is a relatively uncommon species that resembles Western swordfern and cannot be harvested.

Following low-impact /ecologically sensitive collection techniques will support sustainable management and conservation of this species and help maintain a sustainable and respected harvesting tradition.

Swordfern foliage permits are typically available on all our Ranger Districts. Please call the District Office where you are interested in harvesting to check for current availability before you head out to obtain a permit. Refer to our Product Price List for current permit costs.

Other Foliage

Collection on the Rogue River – Siskiyou

The leaves of other plants are collected for a variety of special forest products from floral greens to medicinal applications. Species that are common and can be harvested from in a sustainable manner may be made available to harvest.

On the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest a permit must be obtained prior to removing forest products including foliage above Incidental-Use amounts. Under a foliage permit only the leaves may be harvested. The branch and root system must be left undisturbed to ensure good re-growth following harvest.

Choosing only those leaves that you can reasonably use or sell promotes a stronger plant that will regenerate and produce better in the future.

Following low-impact /ecologically sensitive collection will support sustainable management and conservation of this species and help maintain a sustainable and respected harvesting tradition.

Foliage permits may be available at our Ranger Districts. Please call the District Office where you are interested in harvesting to check for current availability before you head out to obtain a permit. Refer to our Product Price List for current permit costs.

Species information on this page from:
Vance, et. al, 2001; SPECIAL FOREST PRODUCTS Species Information Guide for the Pacific Northwest; Pacific Northwest Research Station General Technical Report 513; USDA Forest Service





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/rogue-siskiyou/passes-permits/forestproducts/?cid=stelprdb5327538