Sweet vernalgrass

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. April 2011.

Scientific name: Anthoxanthum odoratum L.

Common name(s): sweet vernalgrass, holy grass, vanilla grass, buffalo grass, large sweet grass

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– perennial

-leaf blade 2–10 mm in width

-spikelet 7–9 mm in length


– smells and tastes sweet when crushed

– may be confused with A. ovatum; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage


-disturbed sites


-meadows and fields




-unpalatable to cattle

  • declining use in hay and pasture mixes

Natural History:

-Native Americans used the stems to make baskets



Go Botany. “Anthoxanthum Odoratum L.” Anthoxanthum Odoratum (Large Sweet Grass, Sweet Vernalgrass): Go Botany, 2021, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/anthoxanthum/odoratum/.


Eric T. Doucette, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Biology, MA College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA (updated Feb 2018)