Xerophyllum asphodeloides

Common Names:
beartongue, Eastern turkeybeard, grass-leaved helonias, mountain asphodel
(L.) Nutt.
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
New England Wild Flower Society

The conservation of Xerophyllum asphodeloides is fully sponsored.
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth contributed to this Plant Profile.


Xerophyllum asphodeloides is a very unusual plant, and one of only two species in its genus in North America. Its various common names (beardtongue, turkeybeard) refer to the tuft of grass-like, long leaves that rings the base of the single, tall inflorescence bursting with showy white flowers. Its genus name, Xerophyllum, means "dry-leaved" and refers to the anatomical adaptations it has made to its xeric, rocky habitat, principally in mid-elevation sparse oak-pine glades along the Appalachian range. Its stronghold lies in 22 counties of interior Virginia, but it is found sporadically from New Jersey to West Virginia and Tennessee. It has been extirpated from Delaware and Kentucky.

Research and Management Summary:
A small number of studies have been performed on this species, and, to date, no information on management activities is available.

Plant Description:
Xerophyllum asphodeloides is an herbaceous perennial with perfect, white flowers borne atop a stout spike that projects up to 1.5 meters from the base of the plant. A tuft of grass-like basal leaves (up to 40 cm long and 2 mm wide) arises from the thick rhizome. Flowers 1 cm wide open from bottom to top along the raceme, which can reach 30 cm in length.

Distribution & Occurrence



Global Rank:
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:

State / Area Protection

State/Area Rank Status
Alabama S1 0
Delaware SX 0
Georgia S1 R
Kentucky SH E
New Jersey S 0
North Carolina S3 W1
South Carolina S1 SC
Tennessee S3 T
United States N4 0
Virginia S4 0
West Virginia S1 0

Conservation, Ecology & Research