Photo: Blackstem Plants
The name Hierochloe odorata is from the Greek, literally "holy fragrant grass" and it has been used medicinally and ritually for centuries.
It was very widely used by North American indigenous peoples and is one of the "four sacred medicines", the other three being cedar, sage, and tobacco.
Research shows that a synthesis of the plant is as effective as Deet in repelling mosquitoes.
The stems rise vertically for 45cm or so before growing horizontally, the leaves reaching almost a metre. Traditionally these were cut and strewn or made into long braids and kept as totemistic items.
When crushed the leaves smell of vanilla. Ridiculously tough, this grass grows in Alaska and the Arctic region.
It dislikes dry conditions and requires a rich moist soil with a pH above 6.
Although very slow to establish it can become invasive, spreading by long rhizomes.
One for the grass enthusiast.
Hardy perennial grass (D)
Red, purple, fragrant
Full sun, bright shade
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