20 Sweetgrass seeds, Hierochloe odorata, 'Bison grass'
Sacred plant to many North American tribes. AKA Bison grass, Holy grass. Many Native Americans burned Sweet Grass to invite the presence of good Spirits. Sweet Grass is an aromatic, cool-season perennial growing 10-24 inches in height and spreading about two feet per year by underground rhizomes. Its natural habitat is wetlands, prairies, and savannas. Although Sweet Grass prefers rich, moist soils, it will grow in almost any soil that receives a minimum of a half day of sun. Modern tests show that Sweetgrass contains courmarin, a phytochemical with a vanilla-like flavor known for its medicinal value (courmarin is also found naturally in turmeric). Rare and hard to find.
Sweetgrass is a circumboreal plant which is common above 40 degrees north latitude in Asia, Europe, and North America. In North America this fragrant grass grows regionally from Labrador to Alaska, and south to New Jersy, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Arizona and Washington. Sweetgrass can be found growing wild in wet meadows, low prairies, the edges of sloughs and marshes, bogs, shaded streambanks, lakeshores, and cool mountain canyons. Sweetgrass rhizomes and roots form a dense mat beneath the soil surface.
Sweetgrass flowers from June through August and is easily identified by the sweet vanilla-like fragrance of its leaves, its three-flowered spikelets and its hairy lemmas. The Sweetgrass flowers are arranged in a panicle up to 4 inches long. The spikelets themselves are about 1/4 inch long (the lower two flowers are male only, while the upper flower has both stamens and pistils).
Sweetgrass usually grows among other grasses or shrubs; it is seldom found in pure stands. Dried Sweetgrass foliage is fragrant because of its coumarin content. 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. Weeding Sweetgrass areas lessens competition from other plants. USDA Zones 3-7.