Anthoxanthum odoratum

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Anthoxanthum odoratum
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Pooideae
Genus: Anthoxanthum
A. odoratum
Binomial name
Anthoxanthum odoratum

Anthoxanthum odoratum, known as sweet vernal grass, is a short-lived perennial grass that is native to acidic grassland in Eurasia and northern Africa.[1] It is grown as a lawn grass and a house plant, due to its sweet scent, and can also be found on unimproved pastures and meadows. The specific epithet odoratum is Latin for 'odorous'.


Anthoxanthum odaoratum grass grows in tufts with stems 25–40 cm (9.8–15.7 in) tall, and short, broad green leaves 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in) wide, which are slightly hairy. It flowers from April until June, i.e. quite early in the season, with flower spikes of 4–6 centimetres (1.6–2.4 in) long and crowded spikelets of 6–10 mm (0.24–0.39 in), oblong shaped, which can be quite dark when young. The lower lemmas have projecting awns. The ligules are quite long, up to 5 mm (0.20 in), blunt, with hairy fringes around the side.

The scent is particularly strong when dried, and is due to coumarin, a glycoside, and benzoic acid – it smells like fresh hay with a hint of vanilla. The seed head is bright yellow in color.[2]

Anthoxanthum odoratum is experiencing speciation parapatrically in areas of mine contamination.[3][4]


It is grown by scattering seed on tilled ground in the spring through fall, germinating in 4 to 5 days. It prefers sandy loam and acidic conditions (a low pH). As an agricultural grass it has a low yield, but can grow on land too acidic for other grasses.



  1. ^
  2. ^ BSBI Description Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 10 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Parapatric speciation". University of California Berkeley. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  4. ^ Janis Antonovics (2006), "Evolution in closely adjacent plant populations X: long-term persistence of prereproductive isolation at a mine boundary", Heredity, 97 (1): 33–37, doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800835, PMID 16639420, S2CID 12291411

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