Herb: Indian Basket Grass


Latin name: Xerophyllum tenax


Synonyms: Helonias tenax, Xerophyllum douglasii


Family: Melanthiaceae



Medicinal use of Indian Basket Grass:

The roots are styptic. A poultice of the chewed root has been applied to wounds. A decoction of the grated root has been used as a wash on bleeding wounds, sprains and broken limbs. The washed roots have been rubbed to make a lather and then used to wash sore eyes.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Perennial

Height:
120 cm
(4 feet)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Dry sunny hills and open woods. Moist places in open woods and clearings, from sea level to 2100 metres.

Edible parts of Indian Basket Grass:

Root - baked.

Other uses of the herb:

A watertight basket can be made from the leaves. This basket has been used for cooking food in. The fibres are split from the leaves and then used. The plant is also used to decorate baskets. The small leaves have been used to make dresses. The plants were burnt every year. The leaves were harvested in the spring when they first started to grow out of the charred rhizome. Prior to using, the leaves were soaked in water to make them pliable, but if left too long they turned green. The dried and bleached leaves are used for weaving into hats and capes.

Propagation of Indian Basket Grass:

Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if possible, otherwise in early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division as the plant comes into growth in the spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry sunny hills and open woods. Moist places in open woods and clearings, from sea level to 2100 metres.

Known hazards of Xerophyllum tenax:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.