The name Hierochloe odorata is from the Greek meaning "holy fragrant grass". Also known as sweetgrass, 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.
Recent research shows that a synthesis of compounds within the plant is as effective as Deet at repelling mosquitoes.
When squeezed or crushed the leaves smell of vanilla but this fragrance dissipates after the first frost.
Ridiculously tough, this grass grows in Alaska, the Arctic and most points north.
We advise caution when planting as it is invasive spreading by long rhizomes. This can be useful in some instances as the grass will thrive in ridiculously difficult conditions.
It dislikes drought preferring a rich moist soil with a pH above 6.
Photo: Blackstem Plants
Hardy perennial grass (D)
Red, purple, fragrant
Full sun, bright shade