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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)
Cox, Paul

Nolina texana

Nolina texana S. Watson

Texas Sacahuista, Texas Beargrass, Basket Grass, Sacahuista, Bunchgrass, Texas Bear-grass

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Synonym(s): Nolina affinis, Nolina texana var. compacta

USDA Symbol: note

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Texas Bear-grass is a 1 1/2-2 1/2 ft. perennial with large, woody, basal stems growing in a clump. Leaves evergreen, firm textured, long, thin, up to 4 feet long by 3/16 inch wide, forming a thick clump. The roundish leaves often have tiny widely-spaced teeth along portions of the margins. Flowers small, usually white to cream, in dense vertical clusters 10 inches or more long by 2 inches or more wide at the tops of rather short stems, appearing in spring and early summer. Fruit distinctly 3-lobed, a thin-walled capsule 3/16 to 1/4 inch wide. Flowers barely protrude above the foliage.

The name Sacahuista is derived from two Aztec words meaning "thorn grass": zacatl (grass) and huitztli (thorn).


From the Image Gallery

58 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 30 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Green , Purple
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: White to yellowish green, sometimes pinkish or purplish.


USA: AZ , CO , NM , OK , TX
Native Distribution: C. TX to upper Rio Grande Plains & Trans-Pecos, w. to s.e. AZ
Native Habitat: Woods openings & borders. West Texas and South Texas. Rocky soils.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky soils. Rocky, Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type
Conditions Comments: Not a true grass, but a member of the lily family. A graceful, evergreen garden accent complements almost any other plant and provides texture and structure in winter. Looks great flowing over a wall or hillside. Slow-growing but hardy and low maintenance. The long, strong, smooth, and fibrous leaves have been used in basket making. Drought-tolerant.


Use Ornamental: Accent tree or shrub, Winter-hardy, Rocky hillside
Use Wildlife: Nectar-insects, Cover.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Sandia hairstreak butterfly.
Deer Resistant: High

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Sandia Hairstreak
(Callophrys mcfarlandi)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Take individual offshoots from mature plants in winter. Plant seeds in cold frame or greenhouse in late January (cool weather). Seedlings do best if transplanted into 4-6 inch pots and given light shade the first season.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds when pod or capsule begins to dry. Spread seeds in thin layer and dry at room temperature. Store in sealed, refrigerated containers from up to one year.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Small shrub to plant in Austin Texas
March 11, 2009
Hi.. I live in Southwest Austin and I am looking for a shrub that I can plant against the back of my house, which faces the north. I want something native, fairly low maintenance and not too large,...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for container gardens in Central Texas
March 11, 2008
Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I moved to TX last year, for now living in an apartment with a good-size but shady deck; my garden in VA was full of VA native plants. What TX natives, if any, can I grow in ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control plants for steep slope in Austin, TX
April 09, 2007
I'm interested in finding native plants, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a fairly steep slope. These plants would be in a park, and volunteers will be watering the pl...
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0199 Collected Mar. 31, 1992 in Comal County by Mary Beth White

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Nolina texana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Nolina texana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Nolina texana


Record Modified: 2023-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff, LAL, MAC

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