Anthoxanthum Species, Buffalo Grass, Holy Grass, Marys Grass, Sweetgrass, Vanilla Grass

Anthoxanthum nitens

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Anthoxanthum (an-tho-ZAN-thum) (Info)
Species: nitens (NI-tens) (Info)
Synonym:Hierochloe odorata



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Pale Green

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)

Patent Information:


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


This plant is said to grow outdoors 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

Palouse, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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... read more


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.


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.


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.


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."


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.


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.


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.