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Sweet Grass
Poaceae
Hierochloe odorata


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb


Poaceae Family

Hierochloe Genus
Other Names for this Plant

buffalo grass, bison grass, holy grass (UK), manna grass, Mary’s grass, Seneca grass, sweetgrass, Feur Moire (Gaelic),. or vanilla grass


Location

Grows in northern Eurasia and in North America

Physical Description
Hierochloe odorata is a rhizomatous, usually purplish-based perennial grass, 6 to 20 in. (1.5-5 dm) tall. The sheaths are glabrous to minutely hairy on the innovations (offshoots from rhizomes).

The ligule (membranous projection inside the sheath at the junction) is 1/8 to 3/16 in. (3-5 mm) long, blunt to pointed, and slightly torn with a small fringe of hairs at the margin. The collars (band of lighter tissue at the junction of the blade and sheath) on the innovations usually

have minute white hairs, while those of the mature plants are mostly glabrous. The blades are flat and on the offshoots are mostly 1/8 to 3/16 (3-5 mm) broad and up to 10 in. (25 cm long), while those of the mature plant are greatly shortened, often only 3/8 to ¾ in. (1-2 cm) long. The inflorescence is 2 to 4 in. (5-10 cm) long and open-pyramidal. The spikelets are 3/16 to ¼ in. (5-6 mm) long and 3-flowered. The first 2 florets are male, and the terminal floret is bisexual. The two glumes (membranous bracts beneath the florets) are unequal in size, broad, and equal or slightly exceed the florets. The lemma (outer bract of the floret) is strongly hairy, unawned, and pointed. The anthers are about 1/16 in.




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Poaceae
Poales
Poales
Commelinidae
Monocots
Monocots
One First-Leaves (Monocots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Sweet grass was, and is, very widely used by North American indigenous peoples. As a sacred plant, it is used in peace and healing rituals. Leaves are dried and made into braids and burned as vanilla-scented incense; long leaves of sterile shoots are used by Native Americans in making baskets.

Medicinal Uses: A tea is brewed by Native Americans for coughs, sore throats, chafing and venereal infections. It is also used by women to stop vaginal bleeding and to expel afterbirth. It is warned that because the roots contain coumarin, that sweetgrass tea may be considered a carcinogenic

Food Uses: In Russia, it was used to flavor tea. It is still used in flavored vodka, the most notable example being Polish Żubrówka.

Sweetgrass is traditionally harvested in late June or early July. Sweetgrass harvested after exposure to frost has little sent. Care should be taken to cut Sweetgrass leaves and not to pull the grass up by its roots so it can grow again the next year



Sweet Grass
Drawing by Prof Otto Wilhelm Thome, 1885 [Image in Public Domain]

Comment: Sweet Grass, Hierochloe odorata

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