Basket grass, Nolina, or sacahuista, Latin name Nolina microcarpa can be found on rocky slopes, and areas that are exposed on the sides of mountains. Bear grass will grow at elevations from 3,000 to 6,500 feet above sea level. This plant is also part of the Agave family, and resembles huge rough or coarse grass. It will bloom from May to June when it grows several, close to 8 feet tall stalks from the center of a basal rosette. This basal rosette consists of several large tough grass like bladed leaves that will grow up to 4 feet. The flowers will be a cream or white 1/8 inch dense cluster.
This plant can be pretty useful. The flower stalks can be cut and eaten after being cooked. These must be harvested while young and tender, the outside will begin to get tough and woody. Once this happens as long as it isn’t too late in the season these can be cooked and broken open to get to the inner soft pith. The dried stalks are also great for primitive fire techniques such as the hand drill. These make some of the best hand drill spindles I have ever used. This plant is best known for its long grass like blades that are great for weaving baskets and mats.
This plant is an Arizona Native plant and harvest and salvage is strictly prohibited.