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Sweetgrass

( Anthoxanthum nitens )

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Sweetgrass
Vanilla Grass
Holy Grass
Poaceae
Anthoxanthum
Anthoxanthum nitens
(Weber) Y. Schouten & Veldkamp
ON, QC, NB, PE, NS, NL, NL
Hierochloe fragrans
Hierochloe nashii
Hierochloe odorata
Hierochloe odorata var. fragrans
Holcus odoratus
Savastana nashii
Savastana odorata
Torresia odorata
Characteristics

Grass/Sedge

Deciduous

3

Sun

Clay, Sand, Loam

Normal, Moist, Wet

No

No

Yes

No
Habitat Considerations

Taiga Shield, Boreal Shield, Atlantic Maritime, Mixedwood Plains, Pacific Maritime, Hudson Plains

Woodland, Forest Edge, Wet Meadow/Prairie/Field, Riparian, Swamp/Marsh, Bog/Fen

Pond Edge/Wetland Garden, Bird, Woodland, Prairie/Meadow
Design Considerations

30 cm

60 cm

May - Jul

Yellow

Yes

No

Black

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No


No

Birds

No
Conservation Status

No


Interesting Tidbits

Anthoxanthum nitens (Hierochloe odorata) is now rare in the wild in Manitoba, but is available in native nurseries. (Prairie Habitats Inc.) Used by aboriginal people for ceremonies and for making incense; grass spreads easily to form a thick mat of turf. The whole plant is fragrant (vanilla-like scent from a chemical coumarin). This chemical is also an anti-coagulant (Dodd) Sweetgrass spreads rapidly via deep creeping rhizomes and is extremely cold hardy. In the Great Lakes region, flowering begins in spring. Sweetgrass is a useful plant for wetland and riparian restoration and mitigation and spring protection/renovation. Sweetgrass has potential for conservation use for erosion control. Sweetgrass populations are declining due to harvesting for both personal and commercial use. The species is subject to over-collecting and is sensitive to grazing. Rodents and small mammals (such as pika) browse on sweetgrass. This plant has played a big part in Aboriginal Peoples lives. It is used for sacred ceremonies. It is used also for making baskets, bags and with willow, it is used to make cradleboards. For centuries, it has been used to make a wash for the body and a conditioner for the hair. A tea was made to assist in women's health problems, particularly after giving birth(halting bleeding). A tea was also used to help fight coughs, colds and infections. (USDA Plant Database)


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