Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Holy grass, Sweetgrass, Seneca Grass, Vanilla Grass, Buffalo Grass, Zebrovka
Hierochloe odorata

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hierochloe (hi-er-OK-low-ee) (Info)
Species: odorata (oh-dor-AY-tuh) (Info)

8 vendors have this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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to view:

By CaptMicha
Thumbnail #1 of Hierochloe odorata by CaptMicha

By CaptMicha
Thumbnail #2 of Hierochloe odorata by CaptMicha

By CaptMicha
Thumbnail #3 of Hierochloe odorata by CaptMicha

By CaptMicha
Thumbnail #4 of Hierochloe odorata by CaptMicha

By htop
Thumbnail #5 of Hierochloe odorata by htop

By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #6 of Hierochloe odorata by Rickwebb

By Rickwebb
Thumbnail #7 of Hierochloe odorata by Rickwebb


6 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Jan 27, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I bought a plant in a tiny pot sent to me by mail order from Limerock Ornamental Grasses that was a nursery business in central PA until it folded up about 2008 or so.
I had it in the ground for a few years where it spread like a groundcover for awhile, but the site was getting too much shade and the soil would often become dry in summer. I put it in a 8" pot where it has been doing well and looking good for several years. It can get floppy.

Positive Knothe651 On Jun 15, 2011, Knothe651 from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

I bought seeds collected from the Tribal Earth Alliance Native Wild Flower Farm (contact information unknown) in the spring of 2008 & they suggest that, "plant early summer, spring bloom. Pathway edging grass. Likes gravel, dry, full to part sun with rain runoff.
This seed was collected in 2007 & I planted them in the spring of 2009. As expected there was very poor germination, sprouting occurred over a several week period, but by the end of summer the container was lush with grass. Apparently seeds must be stratified but some are fertile. Left it on my balcony over winter here in MN; the cold killing off most plant. Nursed the six plants remaining & protected them over winter with all of them surviving. Seed did come true. Grass has mild scent when crushed green & when dry it smells like the stuff I buy at the Co-op.
Bloomed the third season but it may have bloomed the second season had I not frozen the begeebers out of the roots.

Positive CaptMicha On Oct 8, 2004, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Hierochloe odorata is different from Anthoxanthum odoratum. I don't know much about the latter but Hierochloe odorata does not produce scent until dried.

Hierochloe odorata needs to be fed heavily about once every four months with organic plant food or lawn food (it burns easily) and the soil needs to be kept moist (watering daily is suggested), like the boggy conditions it naturally occurs in. Plants also NEED the dormancy period which is naturally provided in colder zones.

Plants grow best in containers as it will most likely spread if planted in the ground. It makes for a nice, lush container plant.

Grass is easiest to braid when soaked first.

Positive petevllx On Oct 4, 2004, petevllx from Oakland, CA wrote:

i've been planting this grass [which is a native 'species of special concern' here in california] in front of basement air vents at houses i've landscaped. the slight aroma of the leaves almost covers up the musty basement odors and it seems to thrive in the slightly cooler air.

Neutral nevrest On Oct 4, 2004, nevrest from Broadview, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

Here in Saskatchewan it spreads rapidly, growing to over 3' tall. Flowers in May but most of the seed heads are empty or of poor germination rate. Transplants readily.

Positive tcfromky On Oct 3, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Native grass used by a number of Indian tribes in ceremonies, as perfume or burned as incense. Wonderful vanilla scent. Can be invasive. Makes a beautiful container plant."

Neutral debzone3 On May 18, 2003, debzone3 from Winnipeg, MB (Zone 3b) wrote:

Grows best in nitrogen fixed soil; try planting where beans have grown the year before.

Positive Rikkismomma On Jan 29, 2003, Rikkismomma wrote:

Wonderful plant. Seed germination very unlikely - buy plugs. Scent not noticable until leaves are harvested and dried. Grass may be braided, dried and burned like incense. Plant contains coumarin, a carcinogen. also toxic if ingested.

Neutral smiln32 On Jul 30, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Considered a sacred plant. Used in peace and healing rituals. Also used in incense and perfume.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Ceres, California
Oakland, California
Aurora, Illinois
Barbourville, Kentucky
Brookeville, Maryland
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Lincoln, Nebraska
Santa Teresa, New Mexico
Downingtown, Pennsylvania

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