Herbs and Other Plant Species of the World's Boreal Forests

World Boreal Trees

Terminology | Pictorial

Hierochloe odorata
Sweet Grass
Poaceae (Grass Family)

A hardy, rhizomatous perennial grass, growing to a height of 60 cm.


Sweet Grass Distinguishing Features - Leaves: sterile shoots 10 - 30 cm long. Stems: hollow, erect, 20 - 60 cm tall. Rhizomes: slender and creeping, forming dense mat with the roots beneath the soil surface. Flower: an open pyramidal panicle about 10 cm long, with slender branches. Spikelets: three-flowered. Fruit: a caryopsis.


Circumboreal; common above 40 degrees north in Asia, Europe, and North America; in North America, from Newfoundland to Alaska, south to New England, west to Arizona, and northern California; in wet meadows, low prairies, marsh edges, bogs, shaded streambanks, lakeshores, and cool mountain valleys; grows in association with other grasses or shrubs; seldom in pure stands.


Sweet Grass is a sacred plant of Native Americans, used in healing rituals. Its leaves are dried and made into braids and burned as vanilla-scented incense; the long leaves of sterile shoots are made into baskets.

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