Sweetgrass Braid Profile
Also known as
Hierochloe odorata or Anthoxanthum nitens, buffalo grass, bison grass, holy grass, manna grass, Mary's grass, seneca grass, sweetgrass, or vanilla grass.
A hardy perennial herb with a sweet vanilla-like fragrance due to the presence of coumarin, sweetgrass is native to Europe and North America. The plant grows to a height of about 24 inches, with long leaves that have shiny undersides. Its name, Hierochloe odorata, literally means "fragrant holy grass," and the plant has been regarded as sacred everywhere it has been grown and harvested. In Northern Europe, sweetgrass was scattered on the ground in front of churches on saints' days so that a sweet fragrance would be released when people walked inside. Among Native Americans it has a long tradition of use as a smudging herb (healing and purifying incense) in sacred rituals, and is still widely used for that purpose today. Some tribes believe it to have been the first plant to cover the earth. The leaves, which can reach two feet in length, are woven to make baskets. Sweetgrass has been used as a flavoring for tea, tobacco, candy, soft drinks, and vodka, and as an ingredient in perfumes.
Most often braided and then moistened to release its sweet fragrance, or burned as incense. When burned, the plant smolders, producing clouds of fragrant smoke.
Sweetgrass has traditionally been used by various Native American tribes as an incense (for purification, driving out negativity, and as an offering to spirits and ancestors), as a perfume, as a stuffing for pillows and mattresses, and as an insect repellent. Many non-Native Americans have grown fond of sweetgrass for its soothing, somewhat hypnotic vanilla-like fragrance, which can be an aid to meditative practices.
Not recommended for internal use, due to the presence of coumarin.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.