Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Anthoxanthum odoratum
sweet vernalgrass

Distribution: Occurring chiefly west of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east to the Rocky Mountains, southern Great Plains, and eastern North America.

Habitat: Roadsides, fields, meadows, prairies, balds, lawns, and other disturbed open areas at low elevations.

Flowers: April-July

Origin: Introduced from Europe

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Wind


Tufted perennial, the culms 1-3 dm. tall, erect and hollow.


Sheaths open, usually glabrous; ligules 2-3 mm. long, membranous; blades flat, 3-7 mm. broad, with a few hairs up to 2 mm. long near the base.


Inflorescence a narrow, tawny, congested panicle 2-9 cm. long; spikelets 3-flowered, the lower 2 empty lemmas; articulation above the glumes; auricles well-developed; glumes unequal, acute, the first 4-5 mm. long, 1-nerved, the second 8-10 mm. long, 3-nerved; sterile lemmas subequal, narrow, about 3 mm. long, pubescent, the first awned from above mid-length in the back, the awn 3 mm. long, the second awned from well below midlength, the awn 7-10 mm. long, twisted and bent; fertile lemma firm, brown, glabrous, 2 mm. long; palea equal to the fertile lemma; lodicules lacking.


Single-seed grain (caryopsis).

Identification Notes:

Roots and crushed foliage often producing a fragrance similar to fresh hay with a hint of vanilla.

Accepted Name:
Anthoxanthum odoratum L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 28. 1753. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Anthoxanthum odoratum L. ssp. alpinum (Á. Löve & D. Löve) B.M.G. Jones & Melderis
Anthoxanthum odoratum L. ssp. odoratum
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Anthoxanthum odoratum in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Anthoxanthum odoratum checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Anthoxanthum odoratum information.

E-Flora BC: Anthoxanthum odoratum atlas page.

CalPhotos: Anthoxanthum odoratum photos.

USDA Plants: Anthoxanthum odoratum information.

34 photographs:
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