BugwoodWiki Article

sweet vernalgrass
Anthoxanthum odoratum L.


Anthoxanthum odoratum is a perennial or winter annual grass that often produces a noticeable seed head by April or May in many of Virginia's hay fields. Anthoxanthum odoratum gives off a distinctive, sweet-smelling odor when mature.
Leaves are rolled in the sheath and may reach 0.4 in. (10 mm) in width.  Upper and lower leaf surfaces, as well as the leaf margins, usually have short hairs.
A brownish-yellow spike that is approximately 0.75-2.75 in. (2-7 cm) long and 0.5-0.75 in. (1.3-2 cm) wide.  Each spike contains many spikelets that are approximately 0.25-0.33 in. (6.5-8.5 mm) long.
Seedheads develop around April and May and give off a sweet smell.
Ecological Threat
This plant is most commonly a weed of pastures, hay fields, roadsides, and ditch banks that is found throughout the southeastern United States and into Kentucky and West Virginia. It is native to Eurasia.

General Description:

Anthoxanthum odoratum is a sweet-smelling perennial grass with flat blades and spikelike panicles.

The name Anthoxanthum is derived from the Greek, ANTHOS meaning flower and XANTHOS meaning yellow, alluding to the yellow inflorescence.

Diagnostic Characteristics:

Anthoxanthum odoratum can be distinguished from other grass species by its perennial habit and sweet, vanilla scent, especially when dry.


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EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org

EDDMapS Distribution

State Invasive List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their invasive species list. For more information, visit Invasive.org

State Invasives List

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Anthoxanthum

Other System Links

Plants: ANOD
Bayer: AOXOD
GRIN: 3594
ITIS: 41395


Category: Grass or Grasslike