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Sweet Vernal Grass

GRASSES

GENUS/SPECIES


Anthoxanthum odoratum

FAMILY


Poaceae
(includes all the grasses, including grains)

SYNONYMS


Common: Sweet Vernalgrass

DISTRIBUTION


Eastern US and Pacific Coast

  • Louisiana northward to Illinois and S Michigan
  • S Michigan eastward to Maine
  • Maine southward to Georgia
  • Georgia westward to Louisiana
  • Pacific Coast from west central California through Washington

Comments

This grass, which is native to the Old World, grows to be some 30 to 60 cm (about 12 to 24 inches) tall, and has rather dense flower heads (but typically less than 3 inches in length) that open somewhat when anthers are exposed. It blooms rather early in the spring. This species will thrive in poor soils and is rather invasive. Although it has a distinct clover-like sweet smell (due to the presence of coumarin), it is rather bitter-tasting and thus seldom eaten by livestock.